By Joel Pommerat
Over the course of the season, our assistant directors and student dramaturgs will be compiling dramaturgical resources relating to each production as it develops. Below are some links to websites which relate to the history of the play, the biography of the playwright, and sites that contextualize and, we hope, shed light on the directorial approach to the dramatic material.
We hope you find these resources of interest.
Joël Pommerat (b.1963)
About the Playwright
Joël Pommerat is an award-winning contemporary French playwright who developed a love of theater at the age of 12 when he first attended the Festival d’Avignon. At the age of 18, he became an actor in a regional theater company, but quickly realized that he wanted to be a playwright and director. He founded the Compagnie Louis Brouillard in 1990 and since then has written and directed two dozen plays.
Pommerat is dedicated almost exclusively to staging his own work (though he has recently taken on his first directing assignment of someone else's text), three of which have been adapted from fairy tales: Le Petit Chaperon Rouge (Little Red Riding Hood), Pinocchio (2008), and Cendrillon (Cinderella).
Pommerat’s accolades include the Grand Prix for Dramatic Literature (for Les Marchands), 2010 Molière Award for Best Company (for Cercles/Fictions), 2011 Molière Awards for Best Living Francophone Author and Best Company (for Ma chambre froide), and 2006 Critic’s Prize for Best Work in the French Language (for Cet enfant).
In 2006, Pommerat was invited by Peter Brook to be artist-in-residence at Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Paris where he stayed through 2010, after which he became associate artist at Odéon Theater of Europe (2010-2013) and the National Theater of Belgium.
Pommerat is currently working for the first time on creating a theater piece in English with American actors in collaboration with his French designers and technicians. The original project was to have been Je tremble 3, the final installment of a trilogy begun with the acclaimed diptych Je tremble 1 et 2. That work has now been replaced by Cendrillon (Cinderella) which is set to premier in New York City as the final production of New York Theater Workshop’s 2013-14 season.
The fairy tale of Cinderella has been told and retold through thousands of variants from all around the world. One of the earliest renditions was recorded by the ancient Greek historian Strabo in 1st century BC and tells the story of Rhodophis, a Greek slave who worked for an Egyptian master.
Another well-known early version dates from 860 from China, the story of Ye Xian, in which the small size of the protagonist’s slipper is related to the tradition of foot binding.
Other notable versions include La Gatta Cenerentola (Cat Cinderella) by Giambattista Basile, published in The Pentamerone posthumously in 1934, Rossini's opera, La Cenerentola, and Aschenputtel by Jacob and Wihelm Grimm that was published in 1812 in their Children’s and Household Tales.
However the version that is most known in popular culture is derived from Charles Perrault’s Cendrillon, published in 1697 in Histories ou contes du temps passé. This version has acted as the inspiration for other later adaptations including Disney’s 1950 film version of adaptation and Joël Pommerat’s stage adaptation of the classic fairy tale.