Something captivating happened during last Friday night in the « Bouffes de Nord » theater. In this high and dizzy room, we found a curious and enthusiastic public … And intriguing atmosphere prevailed in the place …
Suddenly, the show starts and we witness the astonishing story of Sammy Costas …
The story begins strangely by a kind of recitation of a poem which explains the character’s childhood. In addition, people discover Sammy’s gift: she is able to memorize very large numbers or word lists… She links colors, pictures or landscapes with letters or numbers.
After some tests, the doctors discover that Sammy is a synestethe. Because of her boss, she loses her job and is take on by a magician: she becomes a phenomenon. During the rest of the plot, Sammy is really confused because she doesn’t know how to forget all the numbers that she knows. At the end, she offers her brain to scientists to let them study how her brain was created.
The performance was strange, original and we had never seen a show like this one. For the audience, it was easy to understand the speech of characters thanks to the translation on walls next to the stage. The actors were energetic, therefore the show was not boring.
The scenery was strange because the actors were in a stage where there were few objects (like chairs, a table, a coat stand with different costumes and a carpet to delimit the place where the actors played) but the change of places was easy to understand thanks to the moving of some objects and the changing of costumes.
We asked to Alix, a student of 2°8, about her feelings about this play, « For us it looks like modern theater. Sammy Costas was amusing and incredible! At the end of the play, when she was sad, we would have liked to help her. We enjoyed this story but the beginning of the play was difficult to understand and we didn’t see the relationship with the rest of the play! »
Alice, Alix E, Justine and Maureen
Have you ever dreamed of memorising everything ? If yes, Peter Brook will catch your attention with this play, entitledThe Valley of Astonishment.
It is the story of Sammy Costas, a journalist with an incredible talent of memory. She has synesthesia, which is a form of autism. She can memorise everything and tell it back without thinking. Her boss finds out about it and encourages her to see a specialist. She then founds then that she was a phenomenon. This could be good news but everything starts to go down. She gets fired of her job and don’t know what to do before finding a job in a TV show. Considerate as a freak, her memory is lacking. She is slowly getting haunted by all the numbers and all the words. What will she become ?
They were only three actors in the play and each one is two or three characters. Kathryn Hunter plays Sammy Costas, the main character and a doctor. Marcello Magni plays a doctor and a magician in the TV show, and Pitcho Woenba Koega plays a doctor, a synesthese and the TV show director. There is also Raphaël Chambouvet who plays the musician: he plays the piano during the play.
The setting was really simple. There were only three chairs which were placed on a beige square. On the left, there was also a coat rack where the characters’ doctor coats were. On the right, there was the piano. Lights were really important in the play because they use it to create ambiances.
Finally, we liked this play. It was very touching and funny. We learnt more about synesthesia. The play was a quite long at the end but we keep an amazing remember of this night!
Angèle, Amandine, Théa
An extrodinary and poignant play in "Les Bouffes du Nord" theater
The Valley of Astonishment tells the story of handicap persons who are very clever. They can connect different parts of their brains and use them to have better lives. There were only three actors.
In each scene, there were two doctors and one patient.
There were one autistic patient, with an enormous memory; one physicalyl handicap person, who had difficulties with his legs; and one traumatised person, who painted his sorrow.
At the end, there was a magical show and the autistic person was called to put on a show with her memory. But, after a lot of performances, her memory was full so she was overwhelmed by the things she remembered (numbers or words).
All the actors were totally in their characters and it was a breath-taking performance. Even if they had to play different roles, they stayed focus on their characters.
The props were restricted, there were only three chairs and one table. It was interesting to make the public participate in the play at the end.
The story was really original. It's not something we see every day.
Estelle, Jeanne S, Baptiste
The valley of astonishment
Like Daniel Tammet, Sammy has incredible memory. She can remember everything that she is told. After loosing her job she sees scientist to analyse her brain. They discover that she is unique. She is hired by a talent show to perform on stage, and impress the public.
"It’s a woman who has synesthesiea but she discovers a new job which is to entertain a public."
This show was played with three actors, four chairs, a table, a coat rack and a piano.
"The most amazing play I have ever seen "
Lévy, Gabriel M, Mattéo
Bouffes du Nord, Paris, Friday 9th at the end of the day, 34 students waiting, in a street.
In the theater, actors, powerful feelings, smile on faces and the beginning.
The valley of astonishment was the title, Peter Brook the playwriter. Synesthesia the subject of the play. A poignant beginning, a job, a medical institute, doctors, fabulous brains, losing a job, a TV producer, a descent into hell.
An intelligence so developed, crazy eyes in front of this girl, so skinny, so small, but so smart.
A man with a handicap, a brilliant recovery, a way to live and an incredible progress with happiness.
Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Pitcho Womba Kong were the actors. They had emotion in their eyes, were completely into their characters. “Amazing” is the term for the casting, because the characters were played very well and by especially Kathryn Hunter who plays woman with synesthesia.
Raphaël Chambouvet the musician composed a music full of feelings and emotions along which the actors played as if synchronized.
Simple costumes, simple décor, simple props, an amazing theatre, that was the recipe of the play.
Only a table with four chairs and a coat stand for the setting , doctors’ coats, hats and everyday clothes for the costumes.
« Les Bouffes Du Nord » is old and typically Parisian. It gave so much charisma and an awesome atmosphere to the play.
The play was very interesting because we learned a lot all along. We learned more on the lives of the people who have synaesthesia. We loved the « Magic Show » because we find it very fun. The music was good.
The girl who has synesthesia was fascinating, especially when the doctors tell her to spell a lot of numbers and words.
In conclusion, we find the play and the story original and spectacular, we loved it and advise you to go see it.
Last week, group B went to the conference room, because we had to improve ourselvesand make sure that we were ready for the play.
First of all, we tried the flower crowns made by Marine L and some other stuff that Marine H and the teachers bought.
Then we started to rehearse our scenes. Hanna changed a few lines. So Titania, Oberon and the Fairies have to learn their new script. We also made some changes and we saw what directions to take or not to take after and before our scenes.
That was pretty witty, we laughed and we got to see what was great and what wasn't.
Our teacher took so many pictures of us, and she finally got to see us performing because usually she is with group A.
All in all, I think that session was interesting for everyone and kind of different from what we used to do. It was pretty great.