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Mathilde the Emperor
direction Vytas KRAUJELIS
Production of the Association "Au Temps des Abbayes",
Abbey of Mortemer,
No one has written a story yet
Which is worthy of his memory.
Benoît de Sainte-Maure, author of the rhymed chronicle of the duchy of Normandy, XII s. The show is composed of ancient rhymed texts from the XII and XIII centuries and prose scenes with dance inlays.
This creation is based on the historical facts relating the life of the mother of the Plantagenic dynasty Mathilde the Empress.
The evoked period covers the events that took place from the year 1100 (the beginning of the reign of Mathilde's father Henry I-er) to 1154 (the coronation of Henry II Plantagenet).
The poetic texts represent the ideologically clean and even idealized version of historical facts.
The contemporary text highlights the historical realities and the difficult destiny of a woman in a society run solely by men.
Mathilde's life is marked by the loss of her men. Her husband, her father, her half-brother abandon her one after the other by leaving this world where this lady never ceases to fight for the fulfillment of her destiny as princess, wife, mother and queen deprived of a crown.
The end of the show marks the beginning of a new era - the reign of the eldest son of Mathilde Henri II Plantagenêt during which and until her death she will play an important role in helping her son in the government of the Duchy of Normandy and carrying out good deeds in favour of the city of Rouen.
Detailed description of the show
The scene is almost empty. The characters of the past complete their dressing, discuss, find themselves in a kind of waiting or sleepiness. The bells begin to ring announcing the death of William the Red King of England. It's 1100. The black curtains are placed, the ladies perform a mourning dance.
2. Birth of Mathilde.
Thanks to the texts of the chronicles rhymed in a few minutes Henri I-er is crowned, married, his daughter Mathilde was born. The panel with the portrait of King Henry I-er appears, the decoration is adorned with red curtains.
3. Mathilde's first marriage on Empire land.
The stage hosts a procession from Germany that takes the little princess to her new country. The Imperial Crown appears on the set. Mathilde is crowned queen. The painting ends with Mathilde's wedding dance. Mathilde's adult character is present for the first time.
The joy of his life is overshadowed by the drowning of his brother Guillaume Athling. This mourning is followed by another mourning. Emperor Henry V dies. The imperial crown gradually leaves the decor. The image of King Henry I-er reappears.
5. Mathilde's return to England, the Anglo-Norman nobility swears loyalty to their future sovereign.
6. Mathilde's second wedding in the cathedral of Le Mans.
The rhymed account of the chronicles presents a long animosity between the lords Angevins and the Normans as well as a project of Mathilde's marriage with Geoffroy V le Bel, Count of Anjou. The wedding ceremony and dance. The scenic action is followed by a dialogue between Mathilde and Geoffroy who are probably talking to each other for the first time. The Empress expresses her views about their union. Geoffroy, her foreign husband, will be her best ally against the whims of the nobility.
7. Grief and chaos.
Henri I-er dies, his portrait disappears, giving way to that of the usurping king Étienne de Blois. The decor is adorned with mourning colours. Mathilde and Geoffroy decide to attack Étienne's possessions. Mathilde will go to England and Geoffroy will attack Normandy.
8. Kingdom of England.
The dance and the interventions of the criers announcing the landing of Mathilde, his military actions, the imprisonment of Étienne, the problems that Mathilde encounters in the city of London, his flight, the capture of his chief of army Robert.
9. Etienne and Mathilde.
Before releasing his cousin Mathilde expresses the desire to understand the action of the usurping king. Dialogue is impossible. Stephen wears parade clothes and leaves the Empress while threatening her. The episode ends with an account of the aftermath of this war. (Extract from the "Romanesque of William the Marshal" in a compact way describes the disorder that reigns in England. The portrait of King Stephen disappears, giving way to that of Mathilde.
10. Mathilde in Rouen.
A long separation of the spouses seems to be ending. The Duchy of Normandy welcomes its sovereign. Mathilde's at home. His husband Geoffroy prepares the ascent to the throne of their eldest son Henri. Mathilde asks to speed up this process. It seems that the couple could finally live in peace in their possessions.
11. Final scene.
Mathilde is alone again. Her second husband Geoffroy died. The coronation day of the royal couple Henri
The reconstructed clothes correspond to the fashion of the XII century. The Imperial Crown of the Empress is based on the imperial Crown, which still exists today.
It consists of five demountable metal structures and curtains. Some accessories add volume to the decor. The red canopy that symbolizes Mathilde's journey and coronation in Germany, the white and red sails of the wedding symbolize the ceremony in the cathedral of Le Mans. A folding throne in wood and leather is the only piece of furniture in the decoration.
Technical data sheet:
Stage space required: stage width - minimum 12 metres; stage depth - minimum 15 metres.
CD player or other digital file (the Association has this type of sound equipment).
If the show takes place in a large enough place, 5 microphones should be provided for the members of the troupe for the comfort of the audience.
There are 15 of them.
Technical and logistical assistance consists of 3-4 people.
The pictures of the show were taken during the performances at the Abbey of
Mortemer and in front of the cathedral of Rouen in 2017.
President of the Association loi 1901 "Au Temps des Abbayes" Mrs Jacqueline CHARPENTIER-CAFFIN
director Vytas KRAUJELIS
File composed by Vytas KRAUJELIS, director. Paris, 7 November 2017