Tiago Rodrigues’s “Bovary,” based on the Flaubert novel and the legal process around it: Morality played out on paper and on the female body. Photograph of Alma Palacios by and copyright Pierre Grosbois and courtesy Theatre de la Bastille.
By Paul Ben-Itzak
Copyright 2016, 2018 Paul Ben-Itzak
“Bovary” is being reprised at the Theatre de la Bastille in Paris through March 28.
PARIS – What I love about Tiago Rodrigues, the director of the Portuguese National Theater who is “occupying” the Theatre de la Bastille for two months with three works, is that he defies the conventional wisdom that attracting contemporary audiences requires jettisoning the classical canon. Rodrigues understands that if an oeuvre like Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary” (whose original title was “Madame Bovary, or Provincial Morals”) has endured for 160 years, it’s because despite changing mores, its portrayal of societal turmoil (above all the conflict between individual comportment and predominant national values) is still pertinent. Even if today it’s not the loose morals of a married woman that are accused of threatening societal norms, as was the case with the story of Emma Bovary, but the custom of a small group of Muslim women to cover all or part of their bodies that is perceived by some as threatening the presumed norms of lay values, the battle terrain is the same: the woman’s body.
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