The Little Prince show is coming to the Sydney Opera House at the end of the month. We spoke with Chris Mouron, playwright and co-director of The Little Prince before her arrival in Australia.
Chris Mouron, you are the dramaturge and co-director of the show The Little Prince which is soon going to be played at the Sydney Opera House. Tell us a little about the show. What can Australian audiences expect?
When we started working on the show, Anne and I, straight away we shared our ideas with the third accomplice of this creation: Terry Truck. And when the music started coming to life, I immediately felt like putting the essential words of the book in it. That’s how the role of the narrator was born and that he is invited into this world of dance and acrobatics. Anne and I are very complementary. She comes from the world of dance, of gest, of grace. I come from the world of music, of words. Our two experiences are completely different but complete each other wonderfully.
In 1996, we started experimenting with this mixture of cross-arts, which some people have called “a new genre” since the creation of our The Little Prince. It is normally hard to mix these two worlds, these two languages. For The Little Prince, it was obvious and exciting. The Little Prince is an universal and timeless story. I hope with all my heart that the Australian audiences, like those in Paris and Dubai, will be transported by the show, will travel with the Little Prince, and will rediscover the emotion and imagination of the book.
What attracted you to The Little Prince? What do you look for in a book when you’re looking to adapt it to stage?
Adapting a masterpiece is the most difficult things that there is. And The Little Prince is a masterpiece of poetry and of emotion which has always affected me as an author. I can only adapt what inspires me because adapting requires a lot of inspiration and creation. And my primary goal in adapting the work was to extract the essential words of the work without distorting the overall message. I took extreme care to respect every single comma of Saint-Exupéry’s words in the sentences I chose from the book, and to respect his words even when I adapted his prose in song form. The result was quite astonishing, speaking to music in a kind of ‘Sprechgesang’ as the Germans call it, or a kind of ‘slam’.
Is the show faithful to the book The Little Prince?
Anne and I stayed totally faithful to this book that we love. We wanted to render as much as possible of its poetry, its philosophy, its beauty. We just took the liberty of exploring the totally visionary side of Saint-Exupéry: Our vain man has mobile phones in his pockets to take selfies, our star-counting businessman is invaded by computers and is over-connected. The Little Prince takes care of his planet and sends a very clear and important ecological message.
Do you recall when you read The Little Prince the first time? What effect did it have on you?
I didn’t read it, I listened to it… I was at school and the teacher asked us to listen to the disc which had recently been recorded by the wonderful actor Gérard Philippe. The Little Prince was played by Georges Poujouly. I remember it like it was yesterday the tears of emotion which flowed down my cheeks. I was deeply moved, captivated in listening to this story. It was a revelation for me. The Little Prince is one of the works that made me want to write.
How has working on The Little Prince been different to your other projects?
All shows are close to my heart, but this one is totally special. For me, it represents the culmination of a collaborative effort, of explorations, of daring research, which we have been engaged in with Anne for twenty years.
WHAT: The show The Petit Prince
WHERE: SYDNEY Opera House
WHEN: 26 May to 6 June
HOW: Buy your tickets via the website: https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/circus-and-magic/2021/the-little-prince.html
HOW MUCH: Tickets cost $89 -$ 149 plus $8.50 booking fee.
Which childhood book would you like to see turned into a stage production?