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"I myself am a tree, not high perhaps, not beautiful, but free."
The inspiration behind the hit film “Roxanne,” Edmond Rostand’s timeless romantic comedy has it all: passion, panache and thrilling swordplay. Cyrano, witty and proud but crippled by insecurity, secretly pines for Roxanne—but she has her eyes on handsome, empty-headed Christian. With a beating heart as big as its title character’s nose, “Cyrano de Bergerac” is one of the greatest love stories ever written.Read more
The year is 1640, and the French Renaissance is at its height in Paris. Cyrano de Bergerac, a brilliant poet and swordsman with an unfortunately large nose, is madly in love with his cousin, Roxane. At the Hôtel de Bourgogne, Cyrano makes a bombastic display by ordering the lead actor off stage, and dueling those who challenge him. Patrons leave and Cyrano confides in his friend, Le Bret, that he will never reveal his true feelings to Roxane. He departs to fight the 100 men whom have been sent after the drunkard Lignière by the powerful Comte de Guiche.
The next morning at Ragueneau’s pastry shop, Roxane confesses to Cyrano her love for the new cadet, Christian de Neuvillette. Christian arrives, and confides in Cyrano his love for Roxane. Fearing himself too base for Roxane’s poetic mind, Christian is persuaded to “borrow” Cyrano’s wit in order to woo her.
At Roxane’s house, the Comte de Guiche prepares for war and bids Roxane farewell; despite her protests, he insists on returning later that night. Christian arrives and attempts to court Roxane without Cyrano’s help; it falls to Cyrano to salvage the disastrous effort. A friar appears with a letter for Roxane announcing de Guiche’s imminent arrival. Roxane informs the friar the letter contains orders for her to marry Christian, and a hasty wedding is performed while Cyrano stalls de Guiche. As soon as the wedding vows are made, Cyrano, Christian and de Guiche depart for war.
The French cadets at Arras are starving; Cyrano returns from across the Spanish lines where he ventures daily to send letters to Roxane under Christian’s name. De Guiche arrives at the army camp to inform Cyrano’s regiment they are to be attacked. Roxane surprises the cadets with a visit before the battle, and Cyrano is compelled to tell Christian of his rather frequent correspondence. Christian resolves to tell Roxane the truth. The siege begins and before the truth is revealed, Christian is slain by the Spanish army.
Fifteen years later, de Guiche and Le Bret visit Roxane at the convent where she resides. Ragueneau arrives in a hurry to announce Cyrano has been attacked. Wounded, Cyrano appears at the convent for his weekly visit to Roxane to reveal his true love and fight his final enemies.
—Alyssa Miller, Dramaturg
“Falsehood, Compromise, Prejudice, Cowardice. Are you there too, Stupidity? You above all others were predestined to get me in the end. But no, I’ll fight on, fight on ...”
—Cyrano’s dying words
Now more than ever, we need this play. It was written at a time of great turbulence—not too unlike our own. Daily, sometimes hourly, we’re faced with reports of great men falling from grace … and of deeply flawed men falling further into disgrace. As a result, we’ve become starved for examples of cultural, political and personal fortitude—of panache, that admirable ability to relentlessly pursue grace, virtuosity, selflessness and uncompromising sacrifice. We all have Cyrano within us and may be reminded to strive toward achieving panache, to dive into the reservoirs of our own souls … in short, to be more like Cyrano.
What makes this play so extraordinarily moving and unique is that Cyrano’s heroism isn’t of the Marvel comic book variety: his is an heroic story, but he’s no superhero. Rather, he is beautifully and completely human—as such, he’s also flawed in his vanity and fear of being truly seen and heard. And it’s Cyrano’s very humanity that reminds us of our own foibles; at the same time, his journey also brings to mind our own strengths, our own capacity for courage and our collective fearlessness in the face of trials.
We need this play now, more than ever, to brighten the world with honor and truth—and to underscore the power of light in our hearts and rigor in our deeds. Indeed, the play counterpoints these elements constantly, a nod to Shakespeare’s mastery of contrast and antithesis. Edmond Rostand skillfully reveals the poignant, often comical interplay of opposing forces that enliven the human experience: intellect and emotion; private and public personas; idealism and rationalism; utter contentment and soul-wrenching sadness; great humor and deep seriousness; and extravagant gesture and utter stillness.
We see in Cyrano our own capacity in the lifelong struggle to replace vanity, pride, stupidity and ignorance with grace, humility and intelligence. In Cyrano, we’re reminded of our own ability to achieve collective virtuousness and deeply held honor—even in the face of all odds.
We need this play now, more than ever.
—Christopher DuVal, Director
Cyrano’s Panache: Grace of French Nationhood
Un peu frivole peut-être, un peu théâtral sans doute, le panache n'est qu'une grâce ; mais cette grâce est si difficile à conserver jusque devant la mort, cette grâce suppose tant de force…que, tout de même, c'est une grâce que je nous souhaite.
“A bit frivolous, perhaps, a bit theatrical without a doubt, panache is but a grace; yet this grace is so difficult to preserve in the face of death, this grace assumes such force, that, all the same, it is a grace I wish for us all.”
—Edmond Rostand (1903)
The word panache translates from French as “plume” or “feather,” but its Latin origin, pinnaculum, suggests a different definition: “pinnacle” or “peak”—and Cyrano de Bergerac was certainly the pinnacle of Edmond Rostand’s dramatic career.
In spite of a calamitous rehearsal period which left the 29-year-old playwright expectant of disaster, the first production of Cyrano in 1897 opened to rave reviews in Paris, catapulting the young Rostand into the French tradition of notable writers at the turn of the 20th century.
In his skillfully wrought tragicomedy, Rostand invokes the concept of panache as a defining feature of the play’s quixotic protagonist and namesake, Cyrano himself. In literal terms, the panache of Rostand’s drama is a white plume—a marker of “a man’s visible soul”—which carries immense symbolic weight in battle. Indeed, in Act Four during the Siege of Arras, the Comte de Guiche boasts of his cunning to evade Spanish troops, but is shamed by Cyrano for failing to maintain possession of his panache.
On the contrary, Cyrano is self-aware of his panache every moment, adopting the more colloquial definition of the word which alludes to style, flair or flourish each time he successfully duels an opponent, improvises a perfect heroic couplet, or maintains a confounding asceticism in the name of honor and love. For truly, Cyrano embodies the pinnacle of values espoused by French culture in the mid-17th century: bravery, loyalty and a passion for the arts. yet his physical appearance cripples him with self-doubt, which manifests in pride and deceit. His external panache (his nose) becomes his downfall, while his fierce adherence to his internal panache—his unbridled loyalty and patriotism—are his ultimate salvation.
Rostand died in 1918, but his patriotic Cyrano would endure as a kind of unofficial postscript to the Romantic era of French literature—an emblem of nostalgic nationhood for a country on the brink of yet another war. In the wake of political and cultural uncertainty, Cyrano de Bergerac epitomizes Rostand’s ideal of the French nation: one which is strong and true, humble and brave and maintains the ever-theatrical and ever-forceful grace of panache.
—Alyssa Miller, Dramaturg
In Good Taste Denver
In Good Taste DenverRead the full review - In Good Taste Denver
Ramsey Scott, SentinelRead the full review - Sentinel
Juliet Wittman, WestwordRead the full review - Westword
Beki PinedaRead the full review - GetBoulder.com
Gary Zeidner, Boulder WeeklyRead the full review - Boulder Weekly
Adam Goldstein, Daily CameraRead the full review - Daily Camera
A.H. Goldstein, Daily CameraRead the full review - Daily Camera
Timothy Orr, Producing Artistic DirectorRead the full review - CU Presents
CU Presents, "Cyrano de Bergerac is the hero we need right now"
Jill Kimball, CU PresentsRead the full review - CU Presents, "Cyrano de Bergerac is the hero we need right now"
CU Presents, "A Q&A with Scott Coopwood, CSF’s Cyrano de Bergerac"
Scott Coopwood (Cyrano)Read the full review - CU Presents, "A Q&A with Scott Coopwood, CSF’s Cyrano de Bergerac"
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Christian de Neuvillette
Desirée Mee Jung*
Brissaille/Cavalryman/Capuchin/Another Actor/Cadet 2/Cook 2 and Apprentice/Nun/Ensemble
Cyrano de Bergerac
Comte de Guiche
Jodelet/Cadet 3/Poet 1/Guard/Actor/Nun/Ensemble
Musketeer/Spanish Officer/Cadet 5
Vicomte de Valvert/Cadet 1/Cadet 6/Ensemble
Flower girl/Nun/Poet 3/Pickpocket/Foodseller/Ensemble
Sister Marthe/Duenna/A Lady/Ensemble
Cuigy/Citizen/Cooks 1 and 4/Cadet 8/Ensemble
Mother Marguerite de Jesus/1st Marquis/Poet 4/Ensemble
Montfleury/Carbon de Castel-Jaloux/Cadet 7/Ensemble
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Stephen C. Jones^
Stacy R. Norwood*
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