The production or directorial concept is a metaphor, thematic idea, symbol, or allegory that will be central to a production. It communicates the director’s vision of the play and it guides all of the design elements of a production.
The characters in La France Sauvée, ou le Tyran détrôné (France Preserved, or the Tyrant Dethroned) are historical figures (artistic licenses aside) who lived during the French Revolution, including the playwright, who appears as a character in her own text. When researching the play, you’re immediately struck by the sheer number of personages who did not survive the revolution, meeting their end by the guillotine or by equally tragic means. You can’t change history (revisionist attempts notwithstanding) and so we come to the play with the knowledge that most of these characters will be dead within a year or two of the events of the play. However, given the severely circumscribed circumstances Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette found themselves in during their sojourn in the Tuileries Palace, they must have known they would never regain their former state and would, perhaps, not survive the Revolution. Particularly since their attempt to flee France had ended in disaster and, upon their return, the French people had made their displeasure known. I envision the characters of the play being manipulated by an unseen hand, unable to alter their fates in the slightest. They are, in a figurative sense, puppets or paper dolls. My concept is to make this literal, taking as inspiration the toy paper theatres of the Victorian age, which were based upon the great theatres of the previous century, ones like Marie Antoinette’s Petit Theatre at Versailles. Royal power, bolstered by pageantry and sartorial excess, has been revealed to be false, like the gold-painted papier mâché decorations of the Petit Théâtre de la Reine. Ornate gowns of silk may as well be made of paper for all of the protection they provide; and the world has been flattened.