Second Studio to produce modern adaptation of ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’

Southern Utah University’s student-run theatre company, Second Studio, will be staging their second production of the 2023-24 season this week. “Cyrano de Bergerac,” a classic play written by Edmond Rostand and adapted in 2019 by Martin Crimp, will be held in the Auditorium Black Box Theater Nov. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee show Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. An opening night gala will be held immediately following Thursday’s performance.

“Cyrano” is a dramatized retelling of the events in the life of 17th century French novelist Cyrano de Bergerac. Within the play, Cyrano, a man not known for his beauty, teams up with the attractive yet unintelligent Christian to woo the object of both their affections, Roxanne. Second Studio’s production of the show, directed by Kolton Nielsen, is a stripped-down version that uses a minimal set and costumes.

“The text is probably one of the most difficult texts I’ve ever worked with,” said Nielsen. “[I tried] to figure out ways to stage this so that, no matter what’s happening on stage, the center of the show is still the word. It’s all about the words and about the actors.”

Because Second Studio’s “Cyrano” is so stripped down, it relies heavily on the actors to convey the message of the show.

“He’s such a complicated guy and, you know, he can be such a terrible person sometimes, but you can’t help but feel for him and love him,” said Beau Barrett, who plays Cyrano. Exploring the complexities of Cyrano’s character has been both Barrett’s biggest challenge within the rehearsal process and his favorite part of it.

Crimp’s adaptation of “Cyrano” uses the original verse style of writing but modernizes the language, creating a unique challenge for the cast.

“With the modernization, the director and our lovely sound designer came up with a more modern sound to the words,” said stage manager Eliza Rose Greiner. “They’ve used elements of hip hop and rap to jazz up the sections where Cyrano has large sections of flowery verse poetry.”

Another change in Crimp’s adaptation of “Cyrano” is that of the character Ragueneau, who is a man in original versions of the play and is female in the modern one. 

“Trying to highlight the female element of this show has been a big emphasis and a difficult point for me being a man,” said Nielsen. “I’m trying to rely on my female cast members to fully contextualize Roxanne and Ragueneau and all the other female characters in the show.”

Tickets for “Cyrano” cost $5 and can be purchased through the Utah Shakespeare Festival. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door, so Second Studio highly encourages purchasing tickets ahead of time.

“I think anyone who sees it will be absolutely moved by the message it delivers,” said Barrett.

Author: Tessa Cheshire
Photos courtesy of Second Studio