‘The Intervention’ Project: Introducing Hugo’s Theatre in Freedom in English

Producing and performing for the first time Hugo's play, written in Guernsey in 1866

The Victor Hugo in Guernsey Society’s aim is to celebrate and to promote Victor Hugo’s life and works while in Guernsey, making him accessible to visitors and islanders alike. As well as Les Misérables and The Toilers of the sea, Victor Hugo wrote several plays while in exile in Guernsey, known collectively as the Theatre in Freedom.  The Society took one of these plays, The Intervention, translated it using member volunteers, adapted it for the stage and produced it as part of their international Conference in June 2018. This performance, starring some of the best-known performers in Guernsey, was an officially recognised world premiere: it was the first time this play has ever been performed in English, and it would appear it is perhaps only the second time any of Hugo’s Theatre in Freedom has ever been performed in English – the first was a school production of another play from the Theatre in Freedom in Paris in the 1960s. This in itself makes The Intervention noteworthy, helping to position Guernsey as a location of artistic and academic innovation.

The production, staging, acting, and the specially written music was of the highest standard.

The Society chose the play carefully: it is a comedy with a social conscience, sad, funny and uplifting all at once, and its length (a one-act play in five scenes) and its content make it suitable for schools. It includes music, singing, and dancing, but has a very simple set and only four characters, very different in personality and fun to act. The Society is providing free materials for schools and making a high-quality video of the play, the English script, and background material available in an archive on this website for anyone to download. Victor Hugo really is for everyone and the Society hopes that their exciting initiative will lead to the play becoming part of the repertoire in the English-speaking world.


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