LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES
by Jean Cocteau, adapted by the Company
Jean Cocteau wrote Les Enfants Terribles over the course of 18 days in the spring of 1929 – a distraction from the withdrawal of a recently severed opium addiction. The novel, about a teenage brother and sister cut off from the adult-world and consumed by a series of self-inflicted mind games, would go on to become one of his best known works; a result, in part, of the popular 1950 film of the same name.
My thesis production, a contemporary adaptation of the Cocteau novel and subsequent screenplay, was devised by an ensemble of collegiate actors over the course of five weeks in the spring of 2012. The intentionally unformulated progression by which the production took shape began with the simple question of how Les Enfants Terribles might speak to our contemporary youth culture. The story, a vicious examination of adolescence and its secret rites and social exploitations, seemed to become even more potent in the age of social networking – where a Facebook status update can result in suicides and murder charges. That blurred boundary between “The Game” and real life – if there is a boundary at all – is what drew me to the piece, wanting to explore how the performed fantasies of Paul and Elisabeth both determine and distort their lives – creating a warped non-reality that is theirs and theirs alone.
The style and design of the production was inspired in equal parts by the surreal poetics of Cocteau's Opium diaries and the gritty photographs of Larry Clark's Tulsa.
Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, 2012. Translation by Priscila Garcia. Dramaturgy by Catherine Rodriguez. Set design by Isabella Scannone. Costume design by Rachel Parent. Sound design by Chris Rummel. Lighting Design by Dan Efros. Featuring Ginna LeVine, Adam Hagenbuch, Jacob Tischler, Imari Hardon and Dylan Schwartz Wallach.