"The Cocktail Party"
a comedy by
Celia Coplestone - Lucy Kate Westbrook
Peter Quilpe - Eugene Lin
Edward Chamberlayne - Edward Snyder
At the end of a cocktail party, Peter who is a young selfish filmmaker is confessing to his mentor Edward that he has failed in love recently.
An experimental approach to bring back the most English American poet to his country. New-York is the London of yesterday. The aesthetics is influenced by dreams and paintings, especially Fauvism and German Expressionism (Kirchner). The Avant-Guard visual work of genius such Kenneth Anger, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Ken Russell and Robert Wilson inspired me the visual surreal colorful hallucinatory atmosphere.
F. W. Murnau 's Sunrise for the use of screen as memories, emotions.
WHY THIS PLAY?
The Cocktail Party is a play about the nature of human relationships with each other and with God.
I have chosen to skip this last point to concentrate on the human psychology and elegant prose of the American Modernist poet. Eliot's play revolves around Edward and Lavinia Chamberlayne, two members of the High English society and several of their friends attending their cocktail party. Lavinia is absent from the party, despite having planned it, and Edward tries to make excuses for his wife’s sudden disappearance. As the play unfolds through the tension-filled dialogue, it becomes evident that appearances are deceiving and everyone has ulterior motives.
MODERNIZING THE CHARACTERS & SETTING
-I have decided to not have a 1948 London atmosphere - the moment the play was written but
a New-York City 2013 atmosphere with American actors.
-I chose modern day New York as the setting because, according to my observations, post-recession NYC is suddenly more reflective of the stark class divide of 1948 London society than ever before.
-To respect the English elegant characters's manners, I see Edward as an educated Harvard wealthy American lawyer. Melancholic because of his marriage. The other character is American too with manners of a young educated person from New Canaan, Connecticut. Both characters belong to the high social class society.
Edward Chamberlayne has an affair with Celia Coplestone, Lavinia Chamberlayne with a young man, Peter Quilpe. The wife is the first to find out her husband's infidelity. She is also the first to be hurt: Peter falls in love with Celia, so Lavinia feels abandoned. Celia, on the other hand, is firmly convinced that her love for Edward is the real thing.
NOTES ON CHARACTER RESEARCH
The characters are facing their own existential crises, as they question the purpose of their existence and why they go on from day to day in their repetitive domestic routines. The play delves into numerous issues such as :
the struggle for individuality
the need to find meaning outside of social conventions.
indecisive to the point of needing professional help
trapped in a social hell: none of them seem able to be alone for a few minutes
Each of these characters tries to find their own existence by living for other people rather than themselves.
Peter Quilpe : the young idealistic filmmaker
- Naive young man
- Solitary : he goes alone to cultural activities such art exhibitions or concerts.
- Shy : he has serious problems to communicate his deep feelings to Celia or a woman in general.
- Lovesick: he will do everything to be with the woman (he thinks) he loves - Celia Coplestone.
- Idealistic: he hopes to find the meaning of his existence through Celia with whom he claims to have : “shared some perception, some feeling, some indefinable experience” (Eliot 45).
- Broadminded: he travels often between England and North America (Hollywood, California).
Edward Chamberlayne : the Successful lawyer
- 50 years old
- Member of the high society: polite
- Confident: experimented
- Depressed : he is divorcing with his wife. Both are seeing a psychologist to reconnect together.
- Looking for "conventional happiness" : "good life", a normal relationship.
- Looking to be back with his wife for who he has real feelings to be a "normal" couple.
- Lover of Celia Coplestone, Peter's "real love"but doesn't have real feelings for her.
This scene is an insightful look at the complex nature of human relationships by demonstrating through these characters how much we expect from others to the point that we expect them to define ourselves.The dangers of these expectations are that these relationships collapse beneath the character’s projections of one another. People become mere illusions and images of what others perceive them to be, leading one of the guests to state :“at every meeting we are meeting a stranger”.
Music by Bruno Arredondo
Directed , edited & produced by Tanguy de Thuret
For Directing Actors for Film & Television
The New School, Fall 2013
Shot in New-York City
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