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  • Writer's pictureBob

Big ideas at the most inconvenient times

Updated: Jan 11, 2023

For the last few productions, I've gotten the idea for the next show during tech of a previous show. While we were about to go into tech for El Carne King of Vallarta, I picked up a copy of the 1950s French psychological thriller novel She Who Was No More, and in the midst of the first chapter I got the idea to put the novel on stage.

While we were in tech for She Who Was No More, I saw a social media post by a friend of mine about a review that he was writing of the new Irma Vep series on HBO.

I know the title Irma Vep, mostly from the movie that was playing forever in downtown New York in the late 1990s, at the height of the independent film movement.

It was one of those movies that I always intended to see, but never saw. More than anything I remembered this poster and the image of Maggie Cheung in a catsuit.

I was intrigued that there was a new series coming out, starring Alicia Vikander, who's one of my favorite actors. So I hopped on the interwebs that night to see if I could find the 1996 film and, lo and behold, there it was on HBO.

IRMA VEP (1996)

I had very little idea what it was about. I was a bit aware that there was this iconic figure, Irma Vep, who was somehow involved in crime and wore a catsuit...but that was about it.

There was so much that I loved about it.

  • It's French (I'm a huge Francophile. I lived in Paris for almost a year back in 1990-91.)

  • It's weird (I like weird stuff. Always have, always will.)

  • Jean-Pierre Leaud, from Francois Truffaut's movies

  • It's a backstage drama about making a movie

  • Maggie Cheung, who I've adored all the way back to my obsession in the early 90s with Jackie Chan's Hong Kong films.

  • Silent film

That last one was the kicker. I really love movies from the dawn of cinema, when these folks were trying to figure out how to tell a story with a movie camera.

What jumped out at me in the movie was the collision between the past and the present.

So, I went back to past, on the hunt for the debut of Irma Vep...Louis Feuillade's 1915-16 French silent film series, Les Vampires.

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