The dramatic work of Jules Verne is generally unknown. However, the number of dramatic texts he wrote is quite extensive: 5 historical dramas, 18 comedies and vaudevilles, 8 libretti for opera-comics and operettas, 7 plays written from his “Extraordinary Voyages”. In short, 38 plays.
Monsieur de Chimpanzé is an operetta in one act with libretto from Jules Verne and music from Aristide Hignard. It was first presented in the Théâtre des Bouffes Parisiens on February the 17th, 1858, and was a perfect example of the form and spirit of the opera-comics which gave life to that venue in Paris at the time.
The characters are Dr. Van Carcass, responsible for the Museum of Rotterdam, his young daughter Etamine, the daughter’s suitor Isidore, and the servant Baptiste. The story is simple and amusing, as usual in this kind of work: Van Carcass won’t allow his daughter to date Isidore. The boy, to be able to meet her, gets into a chimp outfit to deceive her father. Once inside the garment and the museum, this unusual situation triggers amusing misunderstandings one after the other.
Seen at this distance from the moment it was written, the play is open to a new range of interpretations like for instance concerning the relationship between man and the chimp or the monkey, or concerning the relation between master and servant, which in the play suggests a social speciation amusingly exacerbated by the constant references of Baptiste to his aristocrat background.
Despite having been written only two years before “The Origin of the Species” by Charles Darwin was published, it’s unlikely that Jules Verne had known at the time about Darwin’s ideas on the evolution of the species. This doesn’t prevent us, however, – in fact, we are almost impelled – from appreciating Verne’s play with Darwin’s ideas in our heads.
The choices of Carlos Fiolhais – review for the Portuguese translation of Mr. de Chimpanzee | 03/2011 [content in Portuguese]
Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra | Coimbra
September 25th, 2009 | 9:30pm
Age rating | 12+
Running time | 1h30
Tickets | Free entrance
Marionet participated in the Researchers’ Night 2009, an initiative of the European Union that happens every year (since 2005) on the fourth Friday of September and has the goal to bring scientists closer to the general public.
In 2009 the Researchers’ Night took place on September 25th and theatre was the main form of expression chosen to get scientists closer to other people.
The Night had lots of activities and happened simultaneously in several European cities. In Portugal, the cities involved were Porto, Coimbra, Lisboa and Olhão.
For more information about the global project you can visit the site (in portuguese) Cientistas ao Palco.
Marionet’s participation was through the creation of a theatre performance based upon a play from Jules Verne, Monsieur de Chimpanzé, which was presented in Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra, and where the actors were scientists, that is, scientists were actors, meaning the characters were performed by scientists.
On January 28th and 29th 2010, at 9:30pm, Mr. de Chimpanzee was presented again in Museu da Ciência da Universidade de Coimbra.
Playwright Jules Verne
Cast Ana Rufino, Ângelo Tomé, Elisabete Augusto, João Costa, Patrick Materatski, Raquel Ferreira, Sara Trabulo, Sónia Duarte, Susana Rosa, Teresa Girão
Translation and Direction Mário Montenegro
Assistant director and Video Registry Alexandre Lemos
Wardrobe Joana Cardoso
Executive Production Marta Furtado
Stage Photography Pedro Coelho
With the Support of
MAFIA — Federação Cultural de Coimbra
Projeto BUH!, O Teatrão
- Sr. de Chimpanzé