Leading stage director Laurence Boswell helped students act in a play about love, on the most romantic day of the year.
On Valentine’s Day Mr Boswell gave a lecture and conducted a workshop on a romantic play written by a dramatist who is now regarded as one of France’s foremost playwrights.
Mr Boswell, who has directed stars including Madonna, Matt Damon and Jake Gylenhall, guided French students in Marivaux’s play The Surprise of Love on Tuesday (14 February).
The leading theatre figure brought the play to the British stage in English translation for the first time recently, with the help of St Andrews academic Dr David Culpin.
Eighteenth-century novelist and dramatist Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux’s romantic comedy, La Seconde Surprise de l’amour (1727) is about a grieving young widow who thinks she will never love anyone else, and a young man who claims to have renounced women after being deceived by his beloved.
During the play the couple come to acknowledge their love for each other.
Dr Culpin, of the Department of French at the University of St Andrews, invited the director to St Andrews after advising him on this play, which Mr Boswell directed at the Ustinov Theatre in Bath.
Mr Boswell who has carried out such workshops with drama students but not before with literature students, said: “The students are very well read, insightful and engaged.
“There was a shyness to overcome at first, unlike with drama students, but I found great enthusiasm among the students at St Andrews, and those who had some acting experience – well that’s a great mix.”
Tessa Robins, a second-year French student, was delighted to be told by the director that she had great potential as an actress and should join the drama society.
She said: “I thought today was a lot more fun than I had expected.
“I did quite a bid of acting at school but yes I probably will join the society now.”
Dr Culpin is the leading expert in the UK on the French playwright.
He said: “The students were captivated by his lecture, and I learned a great deal about Marivaux’s skill as a dramatist.
“Thanks to Mr Boswell British theatre-goers have now also had a chance to appreciate a dramatist who is still little known on this side of the Channel.”
Mr Boswell has been an Associate Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company and won the International Theatre Society Award in 1995 for his production of Agamemnon’s Children.
His West End directing credits include Ben Elton’s Popcorn which won the Laurence Oliver award for Best Comedy in 1988, directing Madonna in her 2002 London stage debut in Up For Grabs, and Matt Damon and Jake Gylenhall in This is Our Youth for which he won the Elle Style Director of the Year award in 2002.
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