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Northwestern to Present 'Madame Bovary'

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January 10, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- This winter, Northwestern University will present “Madame Bovary,” a play based on French novelist Gustave Flaubert’s best-known work, written in 1857, about one of the most compelling heroines in modern literature. The stage production is part of Northwestern’s continuing 25th anniversary theatre season celebration and features a student cast.

“Madame Bovary” will be performed on the Evanston campus at 8 p.m. Jan. 27; 8 p.m. Jan. 28; 2 p.m. Jan. 29; 8 p.m. Feb. 1; 8 p.m. Feb. 2; 8 p.m. Feb. 3; 8 p.m.  Feb. 4; and 2 p.m. Feb. 5, at the Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive.

The drama spotlights the life of Emma Bovary as she revolts against the ordinariness of her marriage by pursuing dreams of ecstasy and love.

“It is not necessarily a book you love the first time you read it because it takes a very caustic view of the central characters,” said Paul Edwards, associate professor of performance studies at Northwestern and director of Undergraduate Studies in the University’s department of performance studies. “However, the new stage version of ‘Madame Bovary’ is audience-friendly.”

To make the nearly 150-year old classic tale more appealing to 21st century audiences, Edwards, a Joseph Jefferson Award winning director, has modernized the story.

“The narrators are people who are reading the book in the 1960s,” said Edwards, of his third and latest adaptation of the story. “The production has the feel of the wonderful staging of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ that we produced a season ago. We have a not-quite modern-dress statement that doesn’t update the events of Flaubert’s novel. The period costumes are based on American fashion styles of the 1960s.”

Meghan Raham’s ingenious stage design resembles a gigantic three-story dollhouse. Since Flaubert’s characters often express themselves in clichés and banalities, Edwards has been working with sound designer Michael Kraskin to create background music that audiences will find familiar and as trivial as Flaubert’s clichéd language. The characters play records that may have the most banal-sounding lyrics imaginable, however, they are deeply moved by the songs.

Tickets are $25 for the general public; $22 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students.

For more information or to order single or group tickets by phone, call the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282.

Topics: Campus Life