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The Immoralist

1954 : The Immoralist
Play Based On The Book by André Gide.
starring Geraldine Page, Charles Dingle & James Dean.

Royale Theatre, (2/8/1954 - 5/1/1954)
Setting: Normandy, France. Biskra, North Africa. November 1900 - 1901.

Opening Night Production Credits

- Theatre Owned by The Shubert Organization; Theatre Operated by the Magoro Operating Corporation.

- Produced by Billy Rose. - Written by Augustus Goetz and Ruth Goetz; Based on the novel by Andre Gide. - Directed by Daniel Mann.

- Scenic Design by George Jenkins; Costume Design by Motley; Lighting Design by Abe Feder
- Business Manager: Irving Cooper Stage Manager: Lucia Victor; Assistant Stage Mgr: Richard Grayson - National Press Representative: Bill Doll; Associate Press Representative: Robert Ullman

Total Previews: 8 Opening: Feb 8, 1954 Closing: May 1, 1954 Total Performances: 96 Category: Play, Drama, Original, Broadway Setting: Normandy, France. Biskra, North Africa. November 1900 - 1901.

Opening Night Cast.
Louis Jourdan - Michel
Geraldine Page - Marceline
Charles Dingle - Bocage
James Dean - Bachir
Bill Gunn - Dolit
John Heldabrand - Dr. Robert
Paul Huber - Dr. Garrin
Adelaide Klein - Sidma
David J. Stewart - Moktir

• About The Immoralist •

• Synopsis : In 1902, when André Gide's The Immoralist was first published, it was considered shocking. What some see as a story of dereliction, others see as a tale of introspection and self-discovery. While traveling to Tunis on honeymoon with his new bride, the Parisian scholar Michel is overcome by tuberculosis. As he recovers, he re-discovers the physical pleasures of living and resolves to forgo his studies of the past in order to experience the present—to let "the layers of acquired knowledge peel away from the mind like a cosmetic and reveal, in patches, the naked flesh beneath, the authentic being hidden there."

This is not, however, the Michel his colleagues knew—not a Michel that will be readily accepted by traditional society—and he must hide his new values under the patina of what he now reviles. Bored by Parisian society, he moves to a family farm in Normandy. He is happy there, especially in the company of young Charles, but he must soon return to the city and academe. Michel remains restless until he gives his first lecture and runs into Ménalque, who has long outraged society, and recognizes in him a reflection of his torment. Michel returns south, deeper into the desert, until, as he confides to his friends, he is lost in the sea of sand.

Gide's story is filled by his descriptive prose, which evokes the exotic nature of Michel's inner and outer journey: "I did not understand the forbearance of this African earth, submerged for days at a time and now awakening from winter, drunk with water, bursting with new juices; it laughed in this springtime frenzy whose echo, whose image I perceived within myself."

• Characters :
The Immoralist is narrated by Michel, and he is the central protagonist. The story follows Michel through his near death experience with tuberculosis and into his 'rebirth'. When he recovers from the tuberculosis Michel turns from his previously academic life into a more physical and sensual existence. He feels as if his true self has been revealed, and he turns to his senses, describing how things look or smell. He also becomes much more aware of the young boys around him, savouring their youth, health and perfection.

Michel is torn between society and its conventions, and his repressed homosexuality and this brings him into crisis.

Marceline is the wife of Michel. She and Michel do not know each other very well when they get married. She is religious, and this contrasts with Michel's lack of religious faith. When Michel is ill, and after this, Marceline is very attentive and caring towards him. She cares for him and nurses him back to health.
Marceline follows Michel on his travels, even when she becomes ill as well. She hardly complains about anything that she is put through.

Ménalque is an acquaintance of Michel's. He has a reputation for being disaffected with society, and this draws Michel, who is in a similar position. Ménalque lives for the present and does not require possessions. He is tired of society and the people who follow it, and he talks to Michel about his views.

The story is told through Michel recounting it to his three closest friends. Michel is seeking help from these close friends to help him through his crisis.

• Critical Analyses : In his book Culture and Imperialism, Edward Saïd uses The Immoralist as an example of imperialism's effects on the colonizer. Saïd puts Gide's work in the context of Africanism, which deals with African peoples and cultures in a Eurocentric way.