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舞台劇 Eleven Rooms of Proust, 1998
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引用文章Monsieur Proust 改編舞台劇, 2005 

Northwestern proved to be fertile ground for Zimmerman. Her studies focused on how to use the elements of staging—light, sound, disguise, gesture, movement—and she collaborated on adaptations of everything from Dickens novels to contemporary parodies. She cites her thesis performance, a 45-minute solo based on Proust’s housekeeper, Celeste Albaret, as the most critical step in this development. 

After receiving her BA, MA and PhD at Northwestern, Zimmerman joined the Performance Studies faculty, where her mentors were now her colleagues. The environment has continued to be fruitful. Her production of Metamorphoses, which went on to Broadway and was nominated for a Tony for Best Play, began as a student production. So did Eleven Rooms of Proust, a site-specific performance that she holds dear to her heart. The performance, first set in an old mansion and later staged in a factory, took 11 episodes from Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past and staged them throughout the space. 

“It was this surreal, incredibly moving, very, very strange experience,” Zimmerman recalls. “A friend said it was like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney, except you’re sobbing the whole time.” 

During her time at Northwestern, Zimmerman also has developed a close working relationship with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and was instrumental in the development of her home company, Lookingglass. These companies staged such seminal works as The Arabian Nights, The Odyssey, Journey to the West and, of course, Metamorphoses. In 1998, she was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, and in 2002 she won the Tony for Best Director for Metamorphoses. 

Eleven Rooms of Proust


About Face and Lookingglass Theatre Company
in association with the Goodman Theatre
Conceived and directed by Mary Zimmerman

這位女導演 Mary Zimmerman通常自編自導, 除了2005 的普魯斯特先生例外....只寫不導

是導莎劇出身的, 現在她也導歌劇, 得過許多獎, 2002 以創作之 

Metamorphoses 得東尼獎




May 10 through June 18, 2000
Tours at 6:45 p.m., 7:20 p.m., 7:55 p.m,, 8:30 p.m., 9:05 p.m. and 9:40 p.m. 

Tickets: $30. Call (773) 549-3290. 
Ten $15 tickets available for purchase at the performance space each evening at 6:00 p.m.

4039 North Ravenswood at Irving Park Road,
Chicago, Illinois.

Adaptor/director Mary Zimmerman's Eleven Rooms of Proust takes as its source Marcel Proust's seven-volume Remembrance of Things Past, a vast novel of love and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France. The production, which takes place in a colossal Ravenswood warehouse, gives scenes and images from the novel a physical life that is undeniably beautiful. But despite a total of four onstage narrators and a handful of recorded voices, Eleven Rooms never succeeds in using the text of the novel to deepen the audience's emotional involvement in what they see.

Eleven Rooms is the latest in a succession of Zimmerman adaptations of literary classics: The Notebooks of Leonardo da VinciArabian NightsMetamorphosesThe Odyssey. The implicit question every adaptation must answer is: Why put this work on the stage? The former three productions found their answer in creating and imposing their own dramatic structure on sprawling, episodic, and occasionally storyless texts. Zimmerman's Odyssey never found an answer. It followed the story and structure of Homer's poem to the letter, and for all its lovely stage pictures, rarely added its own insights to those of the text.

In adapting Remembrance of Things Past, Zimmerman faces greater challenges than ever. At the heart of the novel is an unnamed narrator, a young man from an aristocratic family in France, whom we come to identify closely with Proust himself. The narrator leads us through the intricate spaces of his memory to a deeply personal account of his own loves and others'. The force of the novel's insight, humor, and charm all depend on our coming to know the texture of the narrator's life as intimately as we know our own. Zimmerman's primary challenge is either to find a dramatic place for this narrator onstage, or to give the scenes she chooses an emotional life independent of his presence. From the first scene she takes a disastrous middle ground.

Seven of the production's eleven scenes are drawn from the novel's first volume, Swann's Way, in which the narrator learns of and imagines his way through the torturous love affair of a family friend, M. Swann (Kyle Hall/Guy Van Swearington), and Odette de Crecy (Tess Given/Elizabeth Stegall), a fiery young woman of questionable character. In the opening scene of the novel, the narrator remembers himself as a young boy in bed yearning for his mother's kiss, of which Swann's visit has deprived him. The narrator rises to watch his mother from his bedroom window where she sits in the garden with Swann, writes a note to her, and sends it with the family maid in an attempt to bring her to him. The narrator realizes in retrospect that though he thought of Swann–the obstacle between him and his mother–as the enemy of love, at that very moment Swann longed for Odette as desperately as the narrator longed for his mother's kiss.

The production takes this scene as its first as well. What we see matches the story–a young boy lies restlessly in the foreground, rises, gazes through a window on his mother and Swann, etc.–and John Culbert's magical light design captures a child's wonder and longing. What we hear, however, in place of the narrator's delicate discovery, is a cacophony of what seems to be a cast discussion of the scene blaring through hidden speakers. Voices awash in echo and volume effects fumble though a paraphrase of precisely what we see enacted before us. We are deprived of both the hushed visual beauty of the scene and the carefully orchestrated and richly detailed insight of Proust's narrative.

In subsequent scenes onstage narrators (Geoff Rice and Heidi Stillman) and offstage voices speak long passages directly from the novel, but again the middle ground proves a double failure. While the novel's narrator is a sensitive, insightful man who leads the reader on a journey of discovery that mirrors his own, the production's narrators are characterless mouthpieces in period costume and a spoken soundtrack. We are deprived of the emotional experience of knowing who they are, how they have made their discoveries, what the scenes they narrate might mean to them. It would be a clear compensation if the text we heard shed new light on the scenes–said the unseeable– but too often it only describes what we see. One narrator tells us that Swann looked for Odette at a party, did not find her, and despaired; we see Swann look for Odette at a party, not find her, and despair. In this scene and others Kyle Hall gives his Swann a fine wounded nobility. One wishes one could see it and be moved without being told to see it and told to be moved.

Proust's greatest asset is the drama Zimmerman and her designers find in the warehouse itself. After sitting comfortably in the cavernous central hall to watch a number of scenes through the doors of adjoining rooms, the audience follows Swann into a tiny tomblike room to witness his misery at arm's length. A later scene, the most affecting of the evening, crowds the audience so close around the sleeping Albertine (Suzanne Cobb) we hear her breath quicken as her lover (Mark E. Smith) trembles over her. He devours her with a description that is not, for once, precisely what we see, and our excitement matches his own. Throughout the production light designer John Culbert creates shadowy landscapes that locate the scenes somewhere between memory and imagination, often with as little as a single light.

In previous productions Zimmerman has developed a rich physical vocabulary of frustrated longing and gymnastic fulfillment which she employs again here. Certain of the dancelike lovers' couplings in Eleven Rooms, beautiful as they are, are all but identical to ones Zimmerman staged in The Odyssey. Zimmerman fails to use this production as the occasion for a fresh encounter with her physical vocabulary.

Zimmerman claims in her director's notes that in Eleven Rooms of Proust "...we simply try to provide a few fleeting images and passages which give a sense of the emotional experience of reading this great text." Modest as this is meant to sound, the emotional experience of readingRemembrance of Things Past rests on our intimacy with the narrator and his process of discovery. For all of its narrators, Eleven Rooms never approaches this intimacy. A different production might have tried to create an emotional experience independent of the text. Eleven Rooms never does. To the question: Why put this work on the stage? the production offers no answer.

Cast (Ensemble):

Karen Allmandinger
Suzanne Cobb
Lydia R. Diamond
Christine Dunford
Jessie Fisher
Steve Futterman
Tess Given
Kyle Hall
Carissa Johnson
Kristina Martin
James McKay
Mandi Michalski
Matt Orlando
Libby Piper
Geoff Rice
Armando Riesco
Martha Schoeneberg
Mark E. Smith
Elizabeth Stegall
Heidi Stillman
David Tarlow
Guy VanSwearington
Lisa Victorson



NewCityNetActing Out

Rooms with a View

By Catey Sullivan

MAY 15, 2000:  In part because her mother had done exactly the same thing, the summer of the year Mary Zimmerman turned 18, she picked up Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past."

"I thought I would finish it in one summer. That's what my mother had done," Zimmerman recalls. "Instead, it took me four years to get through." When she made it through the final page of Proust's 3,000-page work, Zimmerman was hardly finished with the twining, complex study of unrequited love, coming of age and, she says, "a million other things."

More than a decade later, Zimmerman charged a small group of Northwestern undergraduates to come up with performance pieces based on the sprawling, evocative work of literature. This week, a few of those then-students, as well a handful of new faces, embark on "Eleven Rooms of Proust."

"It's exciting, and dark and a little hallucinatory. And it's huge," Zimmerman says. In fact, "Eleven Rooms of Proust" is a cavernous 90,000-square-feet -- audiences will be conducted through the roughly hour-long piece within the confines of 4039 North Ravenswood, a warehouse-turned-performance space.

The production is joint collaboration between Zimmerman's Lookingglass Theatre, the About Face Theatre and the Goodman Theatre, where Zimmerman is an artistic associate. "Eleven Rooms of Proust" completes a gratifying circle of success for About Face, which was hatched by Kyle Hall and Eric Rosen when both were students in Zimmerman's "Performance of Individual Literary Styles" class.

"It changed my life," Hall says with matter-of-fact earnestness. "Until that class, I always thought I'd be a chorus boy. It was in Mary's class that I realized I didn't want to do musicals."

"Eleven Rooms of Proust," directed by Zimmerman, was one of About Face's early successes. "Eric wrote a grant application without telling me," Zimmerman recalls. "Then he came to me with this $15,000, and suddenly, we had the money to do the production.''

Performed in a teetering old mansion and based on the scenes Zimmerman's students had come up with in class, "Eleven Rooms of Proust" opened in 1998, with a two-week-run that sold out even before the first performance.

Since that time, About Face and Zimmerman have cemented their collective reputation as theatrical forces that deserve attention. Zimmerman has collected the MacArthur Foundation's "Genius" grant and gained a national profile for her visually opulent and emotionally layered stage adaptations of Homer's "The Odyssey," Ovid's "Metamorphoses" and tales from Leonardo Da Vinci's notebooks, among other triumphs. About Face Theatre, meanwhile, has exploded into critical consciousness with productions such as "Dream Boy," "A Home at the End of the World" and "The Boys in the Band." And, at the 1998-99 Jeff Awards, About Face walked off with more citations than any other theater in town.

The revisiting of both companies to Proust is a study in Chicago's outside-the-box creativity. Zimmerman learned of the vacant space at 4039 North Ravenswood through a Lookingglass board member who had coffee with someone who knew someone who knew someone else who was thinking of maybe buying the place. Depending on who is telling the history of the space, the building has housed Esquire magazine offices, a linen factory or an assembly line for CTA seating. The space might seem ill-suited to an adaptation of a novel set in nineteenth-century France, but Hall sees the contrast between space and story as part of the appeal of the warehouse.

"We have this beautiful period piece that we've placed in a raw, industrial space. That's created this incredibly exciting tension," Hall says.

The narrative of the piece deals with the love of a man named Swann for a woman named Odette. It is, says Zimmerman, the saddest piece she has staged: "Most of my pieces are funny at times, but not this one, not really."

"The production is as sad as love is, as love can be," Hall says. "But part of the whole point is that suffering opens us up to feelings things we might never be able to feel otherwise."

Zimmerman gives the sentiment in a slightly different form: "Those who make us suffer give us ideas and teach us things about who we are in ways that others never can," she says.

Production notes:

Set design: Dan Ostling
Lighting design: John Culbert
Sound design: Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman
Costume design: Mara Blumenfeld
Props design: Sage Reed
Technical director: Tim Brault
Production manager: Laura Patterson
Producer: Greg Copeland

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