“Where are the snows of yester-year?” – from ‘The Ballad of Dead Ladies’, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's translation of Villon's ‘Ballade des dames du temps jadis’
This inventive, multi-faceted theatrical performance is inspired by real events and pays poetic homage to the infamous 15th century poet François Villon whom has always been an interest to the playwright. One day, Villon paid Mednick a visit and he felt compelled to tell his story. Mednick continues to explain…
“The style is almost cubism in a way, it’s not as linear, plot oriented, biography. But there are biographical details that are true.”
While the casting is terrific and several notable characters stand out, Mednick admits that finding the right actor to play Villon was no easy task.
“Villon was a tremendous contradiction... He was plucked out of the gutter and educated in the Church and at the University of Paris, only to become a bandit and a murderer. He was a Catholic scholar who could write great religious poetry alongside the bawdiest of ballads. He was pardoned by the King because his poetry was so magnificent.” – Murray Mednick
The Villon character is one of intense complexity, a brilliant mind and one whom deserves to be represented with the proper contrast of light and shadow. Kevin Weisman’s performance as Villon proves to be full spectrum spectacular. Other star performances include: Peggy A. Blow, Alana Dietze, Troy Emmet Dunn, Geoffrey Dwyer, Carl J. Johnson, Gray Palmer & Christopher Rivas.
Alana Dietze’s performance as Isabeau was also phenomenal. The pace, execution and emotion behind her performance was truly expressive and worthy of note. She is an actress to follow, who is quite capable of such complex roles.
Bringing a blend of both contemporary and modern aesthetics, music and language Mednick and this dazzling production team build a bridge between the modern day audience and Villon’s 15th century world.
In many ways the writing, performances and set design are reminiscent of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’. The dark humor and existential condition of the characters adds a level of visceral uncertainty to what is truth and who the characters are. Are they real or is the world just a stage play?
“I hope [the audience sees] something truthful in the character that’s like themselves, ‘cause we’re all alike in certain ways, we all have contradictions…Think about life. The point of a play is for people to think more deeply, feel more deeply, experience more deeply what life is. Catharsis…the meeting of the higher and the lower… cleansing of the soul. That can only happen when two levels are meeting and the stage makes that happen, if it’s a good play. If the play reaches its goal… catharsis is achievable.” – Murray Mednick
The truly remarkable element of this play is the craftsmanship of the characters through the ingenious writing by Mednick. The play is written, in a sense, to be to the audience what poetry was to Villon, a reflection, or perhaps multiple angles of reflection and refraction; layers of light which illuminate each facet of the character, and in turn show the hidden facets of the true self. It is not unlike holding a hand mirror up to a three way mirror and seeing several dimensions of one’s self. Mednick makes this “cubism” style of writing look simple and credit has to be given to the actors for executing the method so well.
Mednick is indeed a brilliant writer, playwright and director, but more than that he is a true professor of the psyche, he teaches us without trying to and there is a palpable genius to what he is able to create. Mednick does a phenomenal job of filling in the blanks where history has failed us. There is not much known about Villon other than what was written in his poetry and the hearsay that has flooded the many pages of the past.
“I think this is a special play and I hope it reaches people on the level, on the complexity it has… I hope they appreciate that.” -Murray Mednick
Many details go into a production of this magnitude; bringing the 15th century to the stage is Scenic Design by Keith Mitchell, Lighting Design by Matt Richter & Costume Design by Adriana Lambarri.
In short, Mednick truly is the necromancer of Villon. He seems to have been put on this earth to tell this story, this unforgettable story.
"Now I run free in the forest of time..." Kevin Weisman as François Villon
To see for yourself this theatre performance of poetry, murder and mayhem get your tickets today.
Details are as follows:
Villon opens for press on Feb. 15 and continues through March 23. Performances take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. There will be two preview performances, on Thursday, Feb. 13 and Friday, Feb. 14 @ 8 p.m. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or go to www.PaduaPlaywrights.org
Details for Calendar Listings
Villon — Murder, mayhem and poetry. Award-winning, visionary playwright Murray Mednick brings his unique sensibility to the hair-raising, sometimes violent and often hilarious exploits of François Villon. Follow the 15th century poet and his gang of bandits, vagabond priests and swordsmen-courtiers through the treacherous forests of medieval France.
Written and Directed by Murray Mednick
Starring Peggy A. Blow, Alana Dietze, Troy Emmet Dunn, Geoffrey Dwyer, Carl J. Johnson, Gray Palmer, Christopher Rivas and Kevin Weisman
Produced by Laura Hill
Presented by Padua Playwrights, Guy Zimmerman, Artistic Director
Previews: Feb. 13 and Feb. 14
Performances: Feb. 15 – March 23:
Thursday at 8 p.m.: Feb. 13 only (preview)
Fridays at 8 p.m.: Feb. 14 (preview), 21, 28; March 7, 14, 21
Saturdays at 8 p.m.: Feb.15 (opening), 22; March 1, 8, 15, 22
Sundays at 7 p.m.: Feb.16, 23; March 2, 9, 16, 23
A guest production at the
2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90025
(310) 477-2055 ext. 2 or www.PaduaPlaywrights.org