One of my majors is drama, and I adore live theater.  I love watching it, and I get the biggest thrill being a part of it onstage, either as an actor or as someone behind the scenes.  To me, movies will never come close to capturing the purity and magic that seeing a show onstage can muster.

One of my favorite parts was the wicked De Guiche in Edmond Rostand’s famous play, Cyrano de Bergerac, my most treasured dramatic work.  These lines happen to be the last major speech from the character, who has, in hindsight, loathed his actions of the past.  In particular, he admires the bravado of Cyrano, who he is referring to as the object of his envy, below.

THE DUKE (pausing, while she goes up):

Ay, true,—I envy him.
Look you, when life is brimful of success
—Though the past hold no action foul—one feels
A thousand self-disgusts, of which the sum
Is not remorse, but a dim, vague unrest;
And, as one mounts the steps of worldly fame,
The Duke’s furred mantles trail within their folds
A sound of dead illusions, vain regrets,
A rustle—scarce a whisper—like as when,
Mounting the terrace steps, by your mourning robe
Sweeps in its train the dying autumn leaves.

Some spoilers to the play’s epilogue follow – click through to read on.

De Guiche has made some harsh, terrible choices, ones that he has to face every time he visits Roxanne.  His best-laid plans were torn asunder by the crafty Cyrano in Act III.  Cyrano manages to deceive him by masquerading as a mysterious moon man while De Guiche’s initial plans of marrying Roxanne go awry as the priest he sent for the task is marrying Roxanne to her suitor, Christian (A little explanation – Cyrano also pines for Roxanne, but believes that his infamously long nose renders him out of the picture.  He combines his wit for poetry with Christian’s dashing good looks to create the perfect man for Roxanne’s heart.  Thus, why Christian is marrying Roxanne).  De Guiche, once the ruse is over, is furious.  He sends Christian and Cyrano’s company out to the frontlines in a terrible revenge, and that war leads to the death of Christian.  Cyrano, in the following years, has never mentioned his half of the romance to Roxanne, who he visits once every week.  Cyrano has become poor, while De Guiche has become wealthier and of higher rank.  He ponders what his status actually means, here, and he feels that it means very little in the grand scheme of things.  He would trade that rank for Cyrano’s pride in a heartbeat, but he can not.  He is unable to achieve that this late in his life.  He has too much guilt to have that sort of pride.

That’s how I interpreted it, anyway.

In a performance sidenote, before this scene, the actress who played Roxanne had an elaborate costume change that took a little longer than anticipated, so I got the wonderful honor of ad-libbing for three or so minutes one night.  I tried to keep things lively, but portraying an aging man with guilt in his heart was my intent, so I don’t think it was the most electrifying action in the play.  My assistant director told me later on that evening that a member of the audience came up to her and said that the play was fantastic, but felt the one bit at the end with De Guiche alone on-stage was a little long.  Some may have taken that as criticism, but I took that as a compliment.  If my made-up lines seemed to be part of Rostand’s play, I could ask for no more praise than that.

Advertisements