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Slovene National Theatre Maribor
Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>
Photo: Damjan Švarc

Boris Vian


Tête de Méduse
Premiere: 22 January 2010

Boris Vian (1920–1959) was a French writer, poet, playwright, musician, singer, translator, critic, actor and inventor. The multi-talented artist disclosed and ridiculed taboos of the post-war French society, especially the so called holy trinity consisting of the Army, the Church and Money. It was not until the great liberalization of 1968 that he was recognized as the instigator of the new era. He studied mathematics and psychology and began performing as a trumpet player and cabaret singer after the war. In 1946 he published his first novel Vercoquin et le plancton, became a regular contributor to Le Jazz-Hot magazine, wrote pacifist songs, made song recordings, played in films and wrote scripts and surrealist novels. His avantgarde plays (L’Équarrissage pour tous, Le Dernier des métiers, Tête de Méduse(Bebop), Série Blême, Le Chasseur français, Les Bâtisseurs d’Empire, Le Goûter des généraux) which he wrote between 1951 and 1974 were part of the new French Theatre of the Absurd.  His one-act play Tête de Méduse (1951) was written after he divorced his wife of ten years Michelle  Léglise because he became completely infatuated by a Swiss dancer Ursula Kübler whom he married in 1954. He died in the midst of the screening of the film version of his most successful novel J’irai cracher sur vos tombes (I Shall Spit on Your Graves) because his overexcitement over the unrealistic film characters caused sudden cardiac arrest and died.

The one-act play Bebop (Tête de Méduse) re-invented the French the comedy of errors. The main character of the play is an unpublished snobbish writer who would like to write a successful novel and knows this will not be possible without his suffering. He also knows that he will suffer the most if his wife is unfaithful to him, so he is systematically setting her up with new lovers but prohibits her to stay with any of them for longer than six months. Complications arise when his wife falls in love with one of the lovers. In order to maintain her husband’s confidence, she makes her lover undergo plastic surgery every six months to change his appearance. When her husband discovers the hoax, he is morally crushed but at the same time appeased as he thinks it highly likely that he would finally finish his great novel. "It is going to be a stupendous text! A great novel! A classic!”

In his article "Vivace cantabile” translator and dramaturge Primož Vitez writes: "Music is in the centre of this performance not only because of Vian’s chansons are sung on stage, but it is also crucial for the rhythm of speech and action. Bebop is a revolutionary jazz stream from around 1950 (when it was written), which was influenced by American musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk. At the centre of this music is improvisation based on quick and unexpected switches in pace and dynamics and dense harmonic structure in compositions, or in other words, on the speed of thought.”

In her article "Dramska umetnost v prenovi” ("Dramatic Art Undergoing Renovations”) dramaturge and theatre critic Ana Perne gives a quick insight into French post-war drama including Boris Vian. The performance of Bebop, which combines Vian’s play with his musical pieces, was directed by Vito Taufer.  In the last few seasons at Maribor Drama he has staged Molière’s play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and Shakespeare’s The Tempest in co-production with Mladinsko Theatre Ljubljana, Cankarjev dom Ljubljana and Slovene Repertory Theatre Trieste.


Miha Bezeljak k. g.
Tadej Toš
Vladimir Vlaškalić
Bojan Maroševič
Mateja Pucko

Photo gallery

Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>

Photo: Damjan Švarc

Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>

Photo: Damjan Švarc

Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>

Photo: Damjan Švarc

Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>

Photo: Damjan Švarc

Bebop <em>Photo: Damjan Švarc</em>

Photo: Damjan Švarc


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