In DONOGOO, ambition and imagination collude to create fact out of fraud.
Lamendin is a desperate man suffering from an existential crisis. Le Trouhadec is a professor of geography who longs for election to the Academy of Sciences. Together they unwittingly set in motion a stock market swindle of global proportions. Investors, pioneers and prospectors alike are driven to seek their fortune in Donogoo, a place that doesn't exist—or does it? .
DONOGOO was originally published in 1920 as a novel in the form of a mock film scenario. It wasn't until the opening of the Théâtre Pigalle in Paris that re-fashioning DONOGOO into a play was even deemed possible by Romains. Opened in 1929, the Pigalle was billed as the most modern theatre in the world, employing the latest developments in theatrical design and backstage machinery. Though impressive, the Pigalle faced an uncertain fate in its first year of operation as it was unable to find a production suited to its mammoth technological capabilities. Finally, Romains' cinematic tale—which swings wildly from a scene atop the Moselle Bridge, to an office, to the wilds of South America—could be fashioned into a play script.
DONOGOO opened in October of 1930 and was so successful it saved the struggling Théâtre Pigalle from ruin. Le Figaro called the play, "a complete triumph; filled with very amusing burlesque, an atmosphere of adventure, and written with all the skill and vitality that one expects from the author of KNOCK." Yet, the play remains all but unknown in the English-speaking world; it has been performed only once in this country, in 1961 at the Greenwich Mews Theatre in New York, directed by Adrian Hall. "A spoof of scientific accuracy, high finance, trade, patriotism, pioneering, and a host of momentous and minute matters," wrote the New York Times, calling the play "sharp and amusing."
Our production of DONOGOO will feature a vibrant new translation by Gus Kaikkonen, who will also direct. Gus previously translated and directed Jules Romains' DR. KNOCK for the Mint in 2010. DONOGOO will feature fourteen actors who will portray the sixty-six characters that populate this dark and madly ambitious comedy. Mint Theater is pleased to present DONOGOO—a satire whose sting remains sharp today—with performances beginning June 3rd, 2014.
Jules Romains (1885-1972): Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885. He spent most of his childhood in Paris, where his father was a teacher. In 1902, he published his first poem, “Le Chef-d’ouvre” (“The Masterpiece”) in La Revue jeune. He published under the pen name he would use the rest of his life—Jules Romains—chosen because it was easy to pronounce, memorable, and expressed his love of Rome.
Romains continued to write and publish poetry, but he also furthered his education. After graduation, he taught philosophy full-time while continuing to write poems and prose. His first volume of poems, La vie unanime, published in 1908, outlined his new philosophy of Unanimism, which he discovered while wandering the streets of Paris. In Unanimism, Romains “had an intuition of the interconnectedness of all people, that groups possess a sort of collective soul, generated by disparate individuals who make up the group,” according to biographer Susan McCready. Unanimism influenced a generation of avant-garde thinkers and artists.
Romains first success as a playwright came in 1923 with Monsieur Le Trouhadec sai-si par la débauche, about a naïve yet cunning professor. It was directed by visionary actor/director/designer Louis Jouvet. (The character of Professor Le Trouhadec is central to the story of Donogoo.)
Romains surpassed the success of Trouhadec with another comedy the same year, Knock, or Le Triomphe de la médicine, directed by Louis Jouvet, who played the title role. The play was a sensation. Dr. Knock was revived six times between 1924 and 1933, and seven more times between 1935 and 1949. In 2010 Mint produced DR. KNOCK, also translated and directed by Gus Kaikkonen. Again the play worked its magic.
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JEANINE PARISIER PLOTTEL
PROFESSOR EMERITUS, HUNTER COLLEGE & THE GRADUATE CENTER, CUNY
- Sunday, June 8, after the matinee
- Jeanine Plottel is the former chair of the Hunter Department of Romance Languages, and the author of many articles and books in both French and English. The French government has decorated her twice for her contributions to French Language, Literature and Culture. She presently serves on several boards, including Barnard College, where she is a trustee, the Society for French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), the Columbia University Maison Française, and the NYU Institute of French Studies. She traces her intellectual genealogy to Jules Romains: her Ph. D. thesis advisor, friend, and mentor, Jean Hytier, was one of Jules Romains’s students. She will discuss the playwright’s unique position in French literary history.
TRANSLATOR AND DIRECTOR OF DONOGOO
- Saturday, June 14, after the matinee
- Gus Kaikkonen is an award-winning playwright, actor and director. For eighteen years has been the Artistic Director of New Hampshire’s Peterborough Players. Gus is a frequent collaborator at the Mint, having most recently directed N.C. Hunter’s A PICTURE OF AUTUMN. In 2010, Gus directed his own translation of Jules Romains’ DR. KNOCK for the Mint. Gus’s plays, translations and adaptations have been produced Off Broadway at the Mint, the Pearl Theatre Company, New York Musical Theatre Festival, Playwrights Horizons, the Production Company; in England at the New End Theatre and the Theatre Museum in London, and the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough.
ASSOCIATE CHAIR, MODERN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES, FORDHAM U.
- Sunday, June 15, after the matinee
- In DONOGOO, Jules Romains skillfully satirizes the patriotism and pioneering spirit that drove French imperialism. Lise Schreier will discuss the play in the context of French colonial literature. Professor Schreier teaches nineteenth-century French literature and twentieth-century French and Francophone literature at Fordham University. Her research interests include colonial and postcolonial literature, her publications focus on travel writing, constructions of national and artistic identities, and the connections between imperialism and early feminism. She is currently working on a book tentatively titled “The Playthings of Empire: Exoticized Children and the Politics of French Femininity, 1780-1895.”
TRANSLATOR AND DIRECTOR OF DONOGOO
- Saturday, June 21, before the matinee: 12:00PM – BRUNCH AND DISCUSSION AT BEA
(403 WEST 43RD STREET)
- Join Gus Kaikkonen, Translator and Director of DONOGOO by Jules Romains, for a delicious pre-matinee brunch at BEA, where he will discuss the process of translating and adapting Romain’s ambitious and sprawling play for the Mint Theater Company.
BRUNCH AND ONE PREMIUM TICKET $85 ($75 FOR MEMBERS OF THE FIRST-PRIORITY CLUB
CALL 212.315.0231 TO RESERVE YOUR PLACE.
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