Written by David Adjmi
Directed by Laila Sahir ('18)
Assistant Direction from Dr. Robert Vrtis
May 3-5, and 11-12
How's a queen to keep her head in the middle of a revolution? Marie Antoinette delights and inspires her French subjects with her three-foot tall wigs and extravagant haute couture. But times change and even the most fashionable queens go out of style. In the humorous and haunting Marie Antoinette, idle gossip turns more insidious as the country revolts, demanding liberté, égalité, fraternité! -New Dramatists
Marie Antoinette faced significant challenges in her journey toward becoming the queen of France. She was thoroughly underqualified to inherit a throne that was anything but stable. She grew up exclusively in the Austrian court, and her upbringing caused her to lack cultural awareness. Because of this, she behaved in ways that many found to be unseemly at best and treasonous at worst.
By the time Marie was put on trial and sentenced to death, the people truly did hate her. In a time of political and economic unrest, she was selfish, frivolous, and ignorant, and for these reasons she deserved her fate. Death to the monarchy, and freedom for the people.
I’ve started to wonder, however, if this is necessarily true. We know that beheading Louis and Marie didn’t fix the societal problems of the French people. Something that the cast and I have talked a lot about is that anger directed at a problem in society can feel futile. Anger upon a person, on the other hand, feels like a much more satisfying target for blame. But who gets to decide who’s to blame?
We cannot say that Marie was merely a victim of her circumstances; the fact is, she did make choices, and sometimes they were bad ones. We cannot reduce her role in this story to that of a passive figurehead. What is important to remember, I think, is that the mistakes she made were no bigger or smaller, than anyone else might have made in her circumstances. No one acts in a way that seems unreasonable or out of place, yet things quickly escalate until they are out of anyone’s control.
Revolutions can lead to great social strides, and often are necessary to gain forward momentum. We must remember, however, that someone always bears the consequences of the change.