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‘August: Osage County’ stage production to be translated into French

Dominique Pitoiset, at left, is leading efforts to make the highly acclaimed play, “August: Osage County” accessible to European audiences. He, along with Production Assistant Stephen Taylor, was in Pawhuska recently to research locals to better portray several of the play’s characters. KATHRYN SWAN/J-C CORRESPONDENT
Dominique Pitoiset, at left, is leading efforts to make the highly acclaimed play, “August: Osage County” accessible to European audiences. He, along with Production Assistant Stephen Taylor, was in Pawhuska recently to research locals to better portray several of the play’s characters. KATHRYN SWAN/J-C CORRESPONDENT

If all goes according to plan, playwright Tracy Letts’ portrayal of a dysfunctional family in the highly acclaimed play, “August: Osage County,” will debut in France in November of 2014.

Dominique Pitoiset is leading efforts to make August: Osage County accessible to European audiences. Daniel Loayza of Paris, France, was charged with the task of translating the play from English to French.

A dark comedy, the play upon which the movie is based received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It made its UK stage debut in London in 2008. Pitoiset is Director of National Theater in Bordeaux, France, and an actor of some note in France. Over the last two years, he directed a French version of “Death of a Salesman” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.”

“My cycle of dark plays is an investigation into the moral crisis facing modern society,” Pitoiset said. “August: Osage County speaks about that — it’s the end of a period, of a society.

This exploration and my research at the moment are to inform and nourish myself, my audiences, and the actors. Here I am investigating the content and background of the characters in the play.”

He adds, “I am perhaps the first visitor drawn to Pawhuska by Tracy Letts.”

Although Pitoiset is familiar with Montreal and Quebec, this also marked his first visit to the United States.

“When I first read the play, I didn’t know anything about Osage County. As I began to research it and Oklahoma people, I found myself in a world I knew nothing about. I had this dream of discovering the Wild West. What I found was an area filled with history along with welcoming and interesting people.

“I believe August: Osage County is not especially representative of the people of Oklahoma nor representative of the west as portrayed in the cinema, even if all of these elements are part of the background. It is about a family that shuts out the world. It could have happened anywhere.”

Accompanying Pitoiset was Stephen Taylor, Collaborator and Production Assistant. Taylor also acted as translator. Taylor echoed Pitoiset’s comments about Pawhuska.

“The people we have met have been very welcoming,” said Taylor. “I want to give special thanks to Joe and Arlena Trumbly. We stopped by their gift shop because we wanted to learn more about the Osage people. We felt this would help us better portray one of the play’s important characters who is Cheyenne. We also met several members of the local police force. Part of our visit was to research the area to better authenticate uniforms and costumes for the play’s characters.”

The much-anticipated movie version of Lett’s work was filmed on location in and around Pawhuska and Bartlesville during the fall of 2012. The movie opens at U.S. theaters on Christmas day.

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