January 17, 2012

You say, "clafoutis..."

A savvy, French-speaking patron wrote to us with the following question:

Just saw God of Carnage and was really bugged by a small detail. Why did the cast all mispronounce "clafoutis? Surely members of the aspirational class would know to put the accent on the last (NOT the second) syllable. Was this done intentionally to make them seem ignorant?

Brooks Ashmanskas enjoys
clafoutis in God of Carnage.
Photo: T. Charles Erickson
We turned to Charles Haugland (Artistic Programs and Dramaturgy), who often has the inside scoop on these sorts of decisions -- ones that are made in the rehearsal room by the director and actors as part of their process. He tells us:

[Director Daniel Goldstein] and the cast had a conversation about the pronunciation of "clafoutis" on the first day; they knew the "correct" French pronunciation, but had also heard the one they opted to use more often and casually in New York.

They decided it would be fussy to say it in perfect French, and to their mind, the pronunciation is not inaccurate so much as intentionally Americanized.

Of course, whether they should be eating clafoutis at all is a question, too. (Daniel questions translator Christopher Hampton's choice to leave clafoutis in the script when me moved the action from Paris to Brooklyn). Indeed in the movie, still set in Brooklyn but written by Yasmina Reza with director Polanski, they eat pear and apple cobbler, instead.

The Huntington Theatre Company's production of God of Carnage plays now through February 5, 2012 only at the B.U. Theatre. Get tickets and information or call our Box Office at 617 266 0800.

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