It's simply a matter of admitting the danger of never again returning to our certainties. To never be afraid, and to see ourselves in the flickering lights of the stage and with our wavering attention.

To walk with measured steps, in the faintness of the light which separates the dream from wakefulness, the audience from the stage. To go ahead of our own imagination perhaps, to enter our own novel, to cross this barrier of spectators to be in the lights, actors in the tale.

And like a book into which one could go, to enter the story as one would penetrate further and further onto a stage, to go into the novel as one would travel by thought into the words and phrases, becoming the characters, putting oneself on show, the idea of childhood, as one would go walking in one's own imagination like an explorer and director, playing and to play, speaking the truth truer than true.

And when relief comes, when the dream fades and the dead rise up and the actors take their bow, and when calm returns to feelings and they continue on their way, there will remain, like a slight pain, a little death, the memory of this time of falsehood, and the unavowed hope that this new life may be the beginning of another new play, the entrance to another dream, even greater than the others and encompassing them all, to infinity and beyond, forever.

-Jean-Luc Lagarce, October 1994


Legarce's Rules for Good Manners in the Modern World is a funny, relevant and subversive play in both its form and content. As such, it ignites challenges to the paper states of consciousness held forth in life and the theatre.

This is the paradox to explore: the celebration of life through social order and good behavior, while exposing the doubt and ambiguity that are curtained by strict conventions. It is perfect material for theatre.

Our modern consumer world yearns for a set of very specific rules, since life itself is not lived but consumed. This world needs an instruction manual, a how-to book, a "life for dummies" sort of a thing. Lagarce's heroine, the perfumed priestess of good manners and social regulations, presents us one such treasure, and not without delicate cruelty.

Although written in monologue, the play provides abundant landscape for broader mise-en-scene. The atmosphere of an event - not necessarily the lecture - is at the core of Lagarce's idea. The potential to transform narrated ceremonies of birth, wedding, and burial into an exciting set of scenes with perhaps several actors, will be my springboard for staging Rules. . .

- Zeljko Djukic, February 3, 2004

JEAN-LUC LAGARCE (1957- 1995)

Playwright and director Jean-Luc Lagarce was one of France's most popular and prolific men of the theater before his death in 1995 at age 38.

Author of more than twenty plays, director of works by Feydeau, Gozzi, Ionesco, Marivaux and Moliere, he was also artistic director of Le Theatre de la Roulotte in Besancon.

Lagarce was born in Franche Comté, on February 14, 1957. He studied literature and philosophy at the University of Besancon and theater at the Conservatory of Besancon, where he wrote his first plays.

From 1985 to 1995, plays and directing jobs followed at a frenetic pace. During the 90's many of his plays were helmed by major French directors such as Norday, Jouanneau, Py, Rancillac and Canterella. His plays were translated in German, English, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, and Arab. He won the Leonard de Vinci and Centre National de Lettres prizes.

TUTA is partially supported by Arts Work Fund for Organizational Development, The Light A City Fund, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, City Arts I and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and The Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.