One of the most unusual, tender and touching compositions, “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was performed by various theaters for numerous times all over the world. For me personally it was a matter of a great interest to view this play directed both for children and grown up viewers with a fresh view on messages of wisdom, kindness, and warmth.
I have seen the play “The Little Prince” by the book of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis at the end of December 2005. The director, Dominique Serrand, and actors did a great job to create a magical atmosphere of the French author’s fairy tale and to embody his vivid fantasy and imagination on the stage.
The meaning of the play “The Little Prince” is very difficult to describe in several words. I would say that the story is about innocence, and about a necessity to aspire the innocence of thoughts, heart, and soul at any age and in any situation. The author expressed this message in his book using wonderful language understandable for people of all ages. Children find a kind and little sad fairy tale in this story, adults see the deeper investigation of human soul with philosophical and morale principles.
The play in the Theatre de la Jeune Lune depicted both of these sides very precisely focusing more concretely on the author’s biography, his story and thoughts. Of no doubt the performance in the theater helped expressing the message implied in the original text. The production conveyed the meaning of the story written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry completely. However, as it always happens when interpreting original texts for playing on the stage, some details were highlighted brighter, some others were only mentioned with no sound accent. For example, there were moments when the pilot was portrayed with two actors on the stage at the same time showing him as adult remembering his childhood. This metaphor did not change the original meaning of the story, but made the play more vivid and deep, as for creating metaphor in the play is one of the most important parts of the director’s work (Arnold 110).
It important for the play to convey the message and the meaning of the original text by all possible means. It includes choreography, decorations, sounds, lighting, costumes, and many other details. The costumes of the characters were rather realistic according to the original story. The Pilot was wearing a pilot’s uniform, the Little Prince was dressed according to the author’s own illustrations within the book familiar to many readers. The costumes were rather simple and supported the main theme of the play, which is one of the strictest requirements for the production according to Stephanie Arnold (151).
The setting of the play “The Little Prince” directed by Dominique Serrand was an interesting show with appropriate sound and lighting effects. However, the director did not use any superfluous effects in order not to lead the viewer’s attention to the wrong direction. As for the major theme of the play was devoted to qualities of human soul, mind, and heart rather than to visible qualities, there were no sound necessity in using great amount of visual means of decoration in the show. It is obvious to me that overloading the setting with many secondary effects would have created an alternate atmosphere. The director properly decided to use only the most important decoration that was only enough to convey the major message. The lighting was very soft and the sounds and music were rather mild, sharpening only in dramatic moments. The director did not use much of expensive decoration, for instance to depict a sandy windy desert he only put pieces of silk yellow fabric fluttering downwind on the back of a stage instead of using sand or more specific effects. The simple sounds of desert – noise of sand and wind – helped a viewer to feel the mysterious essence of story. Dominique Serrand preferred environmental sounds, which is according to Arnold should be integrated into play production process in order to make the setting alive (173).
Acting in the play “The Little Prince” was performed by three actors: Max Friedman (as the little prince), Nathan Keepers (as the pilot in childhood), and Steven Epp (as the pilot in the present moment). In the original text by Antoine de Saint-Exupery there were more characters, like the Rose, the Fox, the Snake, the residents of various planets and asteroids. However, the play was focused on two main characters, the Little Prince and the Pilot. Therefore, the actors had to make a great job to express the meaning of a story through only two characters. Young actors, Max Friedman and Nathan Keepers, brought a sweet charm to the setting by portraying the characters with tenderness and kind humor. It was rather easy to them to depict a childish innocence as for they are children themselves. Their acting appeared very realistic and vivid. Hence, I would say that despite the great amount of fantasy in this fairy tale the style of the play was realism rather than theatricalism (Arnold 228).
I love theatre, and I enjoy French literature, especially Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This experienced pilot and talented author wrote a kind and philosophical fairy tale about human strengths and weaknesses that became popular all over the world. Nowadays, after sixty years from its first publication, it was very interesting to learn the views of others on this story. The play “The Little Prince” directed by Dominique Serrand in the Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis was one of the best impressions from the theatre production in my life. To my personal opinion this production was successful and the viewers enjoyed it very much. The audience was very heterogeneous and included people of all ages, and this fact speaks for itself. As Stephanie Arnold said, the best play is the one understandable for all viewers (361).
De Saint-Exupery, Antoine. The Little Prince. Harvest Books, 2000.
Arnold, Stephanie. The Creative Spirit: An Introduction to Theatre. McGraw-Hill Humanities, 2003.
De Villers, Jean-Pierre. The Last Flight of the Little Prince. Obelisco, 2004.
Soqliuzzo, Richard. The Playwright in the Theatre. Scarecrow Press, 1982.