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NO REGRETS (article first published : 2001-03-16)

Kwasuka Theatre’s artistic director Pieter Scholtz plans a production that pays tribute to the incomparable Edith Piaf.

No Regrets is a dramatisation of Edith Piaf’s life, largely based on a biography written by her half-sister Simone Bertaut and published by Harper and Row. The biography, simply entitled Piaf, is subtitled: “The true, tumultuous story of Edith Piaf, the Parisian waif who entertained France and the world with her songs, her loves, her scandals, herself.”

Appropriately, her songs are foremost in the facets of her life which are highlighted, for it is, above all, the dramatic excitement of her singing, her deep, husky, almost nasal voice, and her total commitment to her art and to life, which remain memorable; with absolute conviction she sings: Non, je ne regrette rien.

The biography is written by a kindred spirit, her half-sister, who lived with her and shared her struggle, her turbulent life and her triumphs; it is overwhelming in its authenticity, its verve and hits honesty.

No Regrets is not a musical,” says Pieter Scholtz. “It could be more accurately described as “musical theatre”. It is an attempt to capture some of the remarkable episodes of Edith Piaf’s life on the stage and the record the process of her development as a “chanteuse”. Perhaps one of the unusual features of this drama is that it moves freely from a narrative to a dramatic style. This Brechtian device juxtaposes personal or realistic episodes with the discursive nature of storytelling.”

The dramatisation has been conceived for six performers. Edith is the protagonist. It is her play. Two characteristics are essential for the actress playing the role. First she has to be able to sing the songs effectively in the style of Piaf. Her performance should be live not mouthed to a recording. Secondly, the actress should be relatively small, certainly not tall. The vulnerability of Piaf resides to a large extent in her diminutive stature.

“Simone is not only Edith’s sister and confidante, sharing her turbulent life and her triumphs,” adds Pieter Scholtz, “She is also a narrator, setting the scenes and linking the events.”

The pianist provides a musical accompaniment and also assumes the role of a detached onlooker or narrator. Three other performers (two males and a female) play between them a variety of roles, woven into the fabric of Edith’s life.

More details from Kwasuka Theatre on (031) 309-2236.




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