Satie et Cocteau – Le Film…

(S)cientist Mike Czuba has just finished a screenplay version of his play Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet. The screenplay stays true to the stage version with some cinematic expansions and imaginings of the world of memories Cocteau and Actor are working in.

It is an Art Film – but one with an international reach.

Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet is a surreal story of love, betrayal and ambition between a director and an actor battling it out on a theatre stage during the final rehearsal of a play that is never to be performed.

Satie et Cocteau is about the classical music composer Erik Satie and his complex, opium-fueled relationship with the surrealist poet Jean Cocteau. Fifteen years after Satie’s death, Cocteau is directing an American Actor in the role of Satie in the play Soyons Vulgaires (Let Us Be Vulgar)*, written by Cocteau in 1939. The action takes place during the final rehearsal, which Cocteau has only called because he feels the Actor does not fully understand the role. We discover that Cocteau’s true intentions are for the Actor to fully embody Satie, to be somehow possessed by him, so he can finally exorcise him from his life.

*No original copy of Soyons Vulgaires has ever been found. The events described in the text have been reassembled using the Actor’s own journal written during the rehearsal process. The journal might have been purchased for a dollar from a barn sale in Ohio in 1972 and was only recently re-discovered.

The play has been produced in Calgary, AB. (https://dancingmonkeylab.com/satie-et-cocteau-2012/) and has received staged readings in Chicago and Berlin. It will have it’s American stage premiere in May 2016 in Chicago by Genesis Theatrical Productions.

“…a truly excellent piece of theatre which deals convincingly and imaginatively with one of the most fraught love-hate relationships in modern French art. It has real depth and excellent dramatic pacing and is a work of art in itself.” Robert Orledge, Composer and Satie scholar.

“I admired the irreverence, theatricality and sheer fun of the piece. I found it to be a very enjoyable read.” Bob White, Director of New Plays – Stratford Festival.
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“Satie et Cocteau…” in Berlin

English Theatre Berlin is presenting an excerpt reading of Mike Czuba’s play Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet on August 15th, Directed by Logan Verdoorn.

“New Work From New People is an evening featuring work by writers, actors and directors who are new to English Theatre Berlin and our community that THE LAB presents every six months, in addition to its regular monthly programming.”

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A Reading in Chicago: Satie et Cocteau.

On July 22nd, Genesis Theatrical Productions will be presenting a staged reading of Mike Czuba’s Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet.  The reading will be directed by Katie Horwitz and feature Madrid St. Angelo as Cocteau.  The reading will take place on Monday, July 22 at 7:30pm at the National Pastime Theater in the Preston Bradley Center, 941 W. Lawrence, on the 4th floor.

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Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet, is a play about the classical music composer Erik Satie and his complex relationship with the surrealist poet Jean Cocteau. The concept of the play is that we are watching Cocteau direct an American Actor in the role of Satie in a play that  Cocteau wrote in 1939 called Soyons Vulgaires. The play takes place 15 years after the death of Satie.

Here’s a quick audio interview with playwright Mike Czuba about the play:

PRESS RELEASE!

SATIE et COCTEAU:

A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet

A new play by Mike Czuba (World Premiere)

Saturday, August 11, 2012
8:00 PM
University Theatre
University of Calgary (200 University Court NW, Calgary)
 
TICKETS: 
$20 (adults) / $15 (students/seniors)
Call (403) 240-4174, e-mail mvfest@telus.net, or at the door
 
INFORMATION: 
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This somewhat surreal two-hander stars Aleksander Ristic and Trevor Reuger, and is directed by Barry Yzereef. It explores the complex relationship between poet and avant-gardist Jean Cocteau (played by Reuger) and the composer Erik Satie , as Cocteau reviews his memories of the late composer and attempts to get a young Actor (played by Ristic) to understand Satie and his milieu.
The concept of the play is that we are watching Cocteau direct an American actor in the role of Satie in a play that Cocteau wrote in New York in 1939 called Soyons Vulgaires. The play takes place 15 years after the death of Satie. The action takes place during the final rehearsal where Cocteau has only called the actor playing Satie, because he feels he does not fully understand the role. Cocteau, in an opium haze, directs the actor in a series of ‘scenes’, which run the length of Satie’s life and career. We discover that Cocteau’s intentions are for the actor to fully embody Satie and bring him to life so he can finally exorcise him from his life. Cocteau has been attempting to do this for 15 years since Satie refused to see him on his deathbed. We also discover that the play will never be produced.
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“I was interested in investigating the idea of ‘sketches’ or unfinished pieces of music by a composer. Satie abandoned many unpublished, unknown and unfinished pieces in his apartment. I decided to look at the play as a series of sketches, of unfinished moments in time, because Cocteau was never finished ‘re-writing’ them. Pull the focus back a little further and I, the writer, took sketches of Cocteau and Satie and finished them in a way that stays true to their characters but might not be what they would have choose. Each of the ideas discussed have allowed the music of Satie to exist as its own character and the concepts of music as man, collage, repetition, the mirror, as physical entity and sketches have given the play it’s scriptuality. Early in the development of the play, before the research into repetition and mirroring, I scribbled a ‘narrative equation’ into my notebook: 
 
‘Actor needs Cocteau – Cocteau needs Satie – Satie needs Cocteau – Cocteau needs Actor’ 
 
When I returned to review my old notes, I was struck by how this ‘doodle’ had become the actual shape of the play and how it fit so easily into the concepts that were bubbling to the surface. Satie’s music was burrowing in deep.” 
 
“Another element of the music I wanted to utilize was its power as an entity. Yes, Satie wanted music to resemble a chair and not “go into convulsions”, but for my purposes I wanted the music to carry a certain amount of antagonism between the characters. Music was Satie’s art and the thing that Cocteau could never fully penetrate, so it already had an element of violence.” 
 
“I was interested in creating a piece of theatre that challenged audience’s expectations of what theatre is and could be. The spirit of Erik Satie and Jean Cocteau are within the pages of Satie et Cocteau: A Rehearsal of a Play of a Composer by a Poet and I hope to continue their work by challenging conformity and to never, ever be predictable.” 
 
– Mike Czuba 
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Satie et Cocteau also features incidental music performed by the musicians of the Mountain View Festival, which runs from August 5 to 12, at several venues in Calgary. The play also inspired Festival Artistic Director Kathleen van Mourik to create a series of concerts based around Paris, the music world during the lives of Satie and Cocteau, and the interplay between the popular music and classical music of the time.