Act One, Scene 2

Photo used with the permission of Dimitry Gelfand.

This is the second scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. If you haven’t yet read the first scene, you can find it here. The original French version of this scene is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la deuxième scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Si vous n’avez pas encore lu la première scène, vous pouvez la trouver ici. La version originale en français de cette scène se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.

(Read the previous scene.)

The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 34 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 6 years old
NATHANIEL HUGER, his eldest son, about 16 years old
ALICE, Francis and Nathaniel’s cousin, about 15 years old

One year earlier: 1776. The entry hall of the house: the main doors are center stage, with windows on either side. A desk and chair are stage right, a staircase stage left. Benjamin and Nathaniel are standing center stage. Continue reading Act One, Scene 2

Act One, Scene 1

Drayton Hall, Georgian-Palladian style plantation house
constructed in 1738 near Charleston, South Carolina

This is the first scene of my play, A Sword Unsheathed, originally written in French and translated into English for publication on the blog. At only eleven lines, it’s the shortest scene in the play. Hopefully these first few lines will pique your interest! The original French is found at the end of the post. (Read in French.) Please read the historical note here.

Voici la première scène de ma pièce, Un sabre dégainé, écrite à l’origine en français et traduite en anglais pour publication sur ce blog. Ayant seulement onze répliques, c’est la scène la plus brève de la pièce. J’espère que ces premières lignes piqueront votre intérêt ! L’original en français se trouve à la fin de l’article. (Lire en français.) Veuillez lire ici la note historique.


The Characters

BENJAMIN HUGER, plantation owner, about 35 years old
FRANCIS HUGER, his son, about 7 years old
ROBERT, a slave

The year 1777. A cotton and rice plantation, on the veranda of the plantation house. A summer evening at dusk, hot and humid, chirping cicadas. Benjamin is seated on a rocking chair stage left, smoking his pipe. Francis stands downstage right, looking into the distance. Continue reading Act One, Scene 1

“I can’t believe it’s not butter!”

SPOILER ALERT: This post may contain spoilers for fans of Mad Men who aren’t up to date with the episode that aired on May 12, 2013.

So, I’ve been watching Mad Men pretty religiously since the sixth season debuted on April 7, but I have to be honest: I’m having a tough time getting into this season. There are a few things that are bugging me, but nothing more so than Don Draper‘s affair with his neighbor, Sylvia Rosen. I’m so over that storyline that every time I see Linda Cardellini onscreen now, I just sigh and roll my eyes. Thankfully, though, it seems the tryst may have finally met its long overdue death. There have been a few bright spots for me so far this season, of course: the wake for Roger‘s mother in the season premiere was one. The history nerd that I am, I’m also digging the show’s tangential nods to the events of 1968. It’s given me an opportunity to discuss that turbulent period of US history with Michel: from Tet, to the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., to Chicago ’68. But even though Sunday’s episode ended with the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, I found myself talking about a completely different history, a French history … the history of margarine. Continue reading “I can’t believe it’s not butter!”

Enter Stage Left

Molière in the role of Caesar in Corneille’s “The Death of Pompey,”
by Nicolas Mignard

If you’re a fan of je parle américain, you’ve probably noticed a recent decline in the frequency of my posts. That’s primarily because I’ve been so busy with what has to be my final semester of French language classes. Instead of writing for je parle américain, I’ve been summarizing French news articles, drafting letters to imaginary newspaper editors about the controversies of the day, outlining arguments for oral presentations, synthesizing multipage French documents into concise 100-word summaries without omitting anything essential … oh, and writing a play in French. Continue reading Enter Stage Left

Provins: Wool Tunics, Honey, and Roses

It’s been ten days since my last post and, although I’m currently in the midst of end-of-semester exams, I feel compelled to share something with you. But what? It’s not as if I’m experiencing anything new and exciting lately; all that seems to occupy my mind these days is French grammar … French literature … French cinema … and French history. Just yesterday, in fact, I took the final exam for my seminar on the history of Paris from its origins to the French Revolution, which was — obviously — heavy on the Middle Ages. That brought to mind one of the weekend trips Michel and I have taken, one that’s a definite must for any medieval history buff living in Paris …

(pronounced [pʁo.vɛ̃] — no “s” — otherwise French people will hear “provinces,”
the generic word for somewhere other than Paris,
and they’ll just ask you again where you’re going specifically)
Continue reading Provins: Wool Tunics, Honey, and Roses

The Hero of Two Worlds

It’s appropriate that I’m publishing today’s post from the United States, because September 6 is the birthday of one of the greatest heroes of the American Revolution: the Marquis de Lafayette. It’s also appropriate that I’m publishing from South Carolina, because Lafayette not only was a Franco-American hero, but he had a special connection to my home state.

Joseph-Désiré Court’s portrait of Gilbert du Motier marquis de Lafayette, 1791

You should know by now that I’m a big history nerd. I’ve been one all my life, and the older I get, the more convinced I am that somewhere along the way I got sidetracked from my destiny to become a history professor. The people in my life closest to me can attest to that fact. Just Sunday night, at dinner with Michel and our friends Leigh and Dwight in Columbia, I was heard correcting a Frenchman’s account of the role of the French Revolution in the birth of French laicity. What can I say? It’s a passion. So it came as no surprise when, during my first semester of French classes at the Sorbonne, I chose to do my 15-minute oral report on the life of the Marquis de Lafayette. It also came as no surprise that my 15-minute report ended up lasting half an hour! I’m pretty sure that most of my classmates’ eyes start to glaze over after about 20 minutes because … well, not everyone can be as into Franco-American history as I am. In any case, je parle américain‘s homage to the Marquis on this, the 255th anniversary of his birth, is based on that long oral report … but today, at least, I’ll be telling it in English and not broken French. So, hopefully your eyes won’t glaze over before you get to the bottom of the page.

Ready? Here we go … Continue reading The Hero of Two Worlds