The Little Prince and the Pilot
Now playing off-off Broadway in two theaters: May 3rd -June 2nd 2019
The Producers' Club, 358 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
Dates: (Sonnet): May 3, 4, 5, - (Royal) 17, 18, 19, -May 31 & June 1, 2
Time: Friday and Saturday @ 7:30pm Sunday matinee @ 3pm
General $15 ($20 cash at the door), Concessions $5 (children ages 10+) ($10 cash at the door)
Step into the world of the dare-devil author Saint-Exupéry. Flying mail across the Sahara desert or the plains of Argentina and later during the War, he survived some serious accidents.
Which moments from his short and dramatic life popped up in his mind on his final journey, who did he see?
When the pilot meets The Little Prince in the desert these two adventurers discover how much they have in common. They both loved and lived and explored the world around them.
Both mysteriously disappeared.
Learn to look with your heart and discover the secret
of what is really important in life.
Based on his life, his books, his marriage, the thousands of letters he wrote and on his bestseller The Little Prince. Actors using masks and puppets
tell an uplifting story about friendship.
Tales of endurance, beauty and friendship are for grown-ups of all ages. (10+)
Vagabond Productions is an internationally active company which has been working for about 25 years in the field of theater and independent film. The actor-founders staged their productions in Great Britain and the USA but also in Belgium and the Netherlands. Repertoire consists of new and existing work.
Their production of The Chairs by Ionesco was presented in Edinburgh (with the actors chosen best of the fest) After that it played in the Netherlands and had an extended run in various off-off-Broadway theaters.
The company has written its own plays: Berlin Berlin and Dancing under the Bridge about the fall of the Berlin Wall and its aftermath with East European refugees. Later there was George in the Dragons Den, Little Prince in the Desert and The Nine lives of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, but we also worked closely with writer-directors like Arne Sierens (Belgium). Vagabond productions translated his play My Blackie and premiered it in New York (Bank Street Theater )with American actors.
The company worked regularly with three time Fringe First winner writer/actor/director Andrew Dallmeyer (Scotland) who directed the productions of The Chairs, Hello Dali Voluntary Departure and Miss Julie. With this play we won a sell-out laurel in 2012 at the Edinburgh Fringe and had many five-star reviews so we took it to New York (The Drilling Company). In 2013 we adapted a new play about a suicide shop: Voluntary Departure (David Moreland) and premiered it at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where it got a great review in The Stage.
We performed The Little Prince and the Pilot at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This year we would like to premiere this play in New York. It is a play for "grown-ups of all ages", as Saint-Exupéry would describe his audience.(suitable ages 10+)
If the point of a theatrical production is to produce catharsis, as Aristotle claimed, this play by Vagabond Productions certainly worked for me. The tears were running down my face at the end. While the ending is no secret, it was the way it was done that was so effective and so poignant, so I won't give that away.
The play is about the life (or lives) of Antoine de St Exupéry, probably best known as the writer of 'Le Petit Prince'. But before he wrote his best-selling story, before he wrote any of his books, St Exupéry, was a pilot, flying the mail planes for the French Aéropostale company, first on the Toulouse-Dakar route and later in Argentina. From a young age he had been fascinated by planes, and he adored flying. The play begins during the second world war, when St Exupéry, determined to contribute to the war effort (despite being past the maximum age for pilots, he was 44) is about to fly on a reconnaissance mission for the Free French Air Force. It will be his last flight. During it, memories from his life, and people he has shared it with, appear to him and he relives these events in a series of flashbacks.
As St Exupéry (Bart Vanlaere) comes on stage he goes straight to a chessboard on one side, while talking to the other character who follows him, dressed in black (Louise Seyffert), and he moves a chess piece on the board. Death and St Exupéry every so often return to the board to make another move, and this works as game, dance and dialogue, becoming particularly close at critical times in St Exupéry's life. There was his first crash landing, then a bout of near fatal fever, another crash-landing in the desert with hardly any food or water and their near miraculous rescue, and a third, where he was in a coma for several days with multiple bone fractures.
Seyffert plays all the other characters too St Exupéry's mother, his partner pilot Henri Guillaumet and his fiery and spirited wife, Consuelo. In one scene, when he first meets her he invites her for a spin in his plane and terrifies her by cutting the engine and refusing to start it again until she kisses him. And in another, several years after their marriage, Consuelo becomes jealous of his lady admirers, once he has become a fêted writer.
And every so often, a crackly voice can be heard, the radio control from headquarters trying to get in touch with him, bringing him and us back to the present, when he is flying on this reconnaissance mission over southern France.
The acting is superb, capturing the different emotions of the major relationships in St Exupéry's life. His character and philosophy is shown to be an ineradicable part of the man his distaste for an increasingly mechanised world where 'man has gone astray with his clever technology...one cog follows another...we need a spiritual life'. He believes in brotherhood, where every individual is necessary and important, creating the whole, like all the stones that make up a revered building, where 'each stone is ennobled by being part of a cathedral'. He demonstrates too the simplicity and directness of his feelings and love for others and the importance of participating fully in life rather than being a bystander.
As he says in 'Pilote de Guerre'/'Flight to Arras' 'What am I if not a participant? In order to be I must participate...to be a bystander...is the liberty not to exist. There is no growth except in the fulfillment of obligations'.
Very like the little prince, his feelings come from the heart, he longs to go back home, he is full of courage and curiosity and his relationship with death never one of fear derives its intimacy precisely from his embrace of life's excitements, adventures and danger. Seyffert, with minimal costume alterations, is so skillful in the way she changes characters, both in her body movements and in the different voices she uses, with their changes in tone, delivery and accents.
Whether or not you are familiar with St. Exupéry's life and work I would urge you to go and see this play. Vagabond Productions have written a splendid script incorporating some of St Exupéry's quotes, and packing his drama-filled life into an hour of adept portrayals. And if you are not familiar with St Exupéry's writings, which have been described as the best books about flying that you will ever read, I would highly recommend them. For they are more than books about flying, they are also wonderfully written meditations on the nature and the meaning of human existence.
The Little Prince and the Pilot Primary Times Children's Choice Award Review:
The Little Prince and the Pilot tells the story of pilot, and author of the Little Prince, Saint-Exupéry, as he is shot down in his mail plane during the Second World War. He then meets death and reflects back on events in his life, meeting the Little Prince along the way.
The Little Prince appears in both human and puppet form. There are many references to the story of the Little Prince and other characters in the performance which will delight fans of the famous tale.
One of the two actors manages to convincingly change into several different characters through minor costume alterations and an impressive range of voices.
Although ultimately the story is about the pilot facing death (not a spoiler - it is clear from very early on when death appears and starts talking to Saint-Exupéry that that is where it will end) it has an uplifting tone about friendship.
Thomas, 8, said "It was very dramatic and I learnt about flying during the Second World War."
Rachel, 7, said "I really liked the puppet of the Little Prince."
Reviewed on 6th August
The Royal Theater at the Producers' Club (View)
358 West 44 Street
New York, NY 10036
|Minimum Age: 10|
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Wheelchair Accessible: No|