Cyrano de Bergerac: A Short History of A Long Nose, A Great Role, And Now, Expressive Hands

Walter Hampden as Cyrano (1923)

Cyrano de Bergerac is a play written in 1897 by Edmond Rostand. It was first produced December 28, 1897, at the Théâtre de la Porte Saint-Martin, Paris, with Constant Coquelin in the title rôle. The American premiere took place on October 3, 1898, in the Garden Theater, New York City, with Richard Mansfield as Cyrano.

In the play, Cyrano de Bergerac is a nobleman serving as a soldier in the French Army. He is a brash, strong-willed man, a gifted poet and brilliant swordsman. However, he also has an extremely large nose, which is the reason for his own self-doubt. This doubt prevents him from expressing his love for his distant cousin, the beautiful Roxanne. She loves the handsome Christian, a soldier in Cyrano’s company. Putting aside his own love, Cyrano offers his powers of poetic expression to Christian to assist in winning Roxanne.

Steve Martin in "Roxanne" (1987)

The original play contains five acts and is written entirely in verse, in rhyming couplets of 12 syllables per line. It is now considered an international classic romance and has been translated, adapted and performed world wide. In 1946 José Ferrer, won a Tony Award for playing Cyrano in a much-praised Broadway staging, and reprised the role in the 1950 film for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. It became Ferrer’s most famous role. Other notable English-speaking Cyranos have been Ralph Richardson, Derek Jacobi, Richard Chamberlain, and Christopher Plummer. Kevin Kline played the role in a recent Broadway production in 2007. Anthony Burgess wrote a popular new translation and adaptation in 1970, which had its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. The story of Cyrano has been retold in many stage adaptations, a Broadway musical, an opera and a ballet. Steve Martin starred in his 1987 contemporary film version, Roxanne, and Gerard Depardieu assumed the classic title role in the 1990 film.

Troy Kotsur as the ASL poet in "Cyrano" at the Fountain

Our world premiere Fountain Theatre/Deaf West co-production of Cyrano is the first version of the classic tale re-imagined in spoken English and American Sign Language.  In our modern retelling, Cyrano is a brilliant deaf poet in love with a hearing woman who doesn’t know sign language. His barrier is not his nose but his hands.  Can he woo the woman he loves by having his hearing brother “speak his words”? Don’t miss this enchanting new spin on a classic love story and find out!

 Cyrano    April 28 – June 10

(323) 663-1525

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