Conceived, written and performed by Patrick Dickson
Directed by Maeliosa Stafford
Lighting and stills: Lis Shelley
Projections: Scott Baker
Costume: Alison Bradshaw
Technical Support: Bronte Shuftan
Music: Fiona Hill & Matthew Perry
Patrick became fascinated, perhaps obsessed, with the true story of Victor Hugo’s exile in Guernsey and with the fiction he wrote there, The Toilers of the Sea. We all know of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of) Notre Dame, but, unlike his contemporary, Dickens, we know very little about Hugo’s immense and tumultuous career.
Victor Ego or The Brainstorm is a ‘one-man’ play, created and performed by Patrick.
Hugo is at work in his studio as he pulls together the essential ingredients of a ripping yarn which will become his next best-selling novel. He conjures up a cast of characters, spicing their relationships with betrayal, obsession, love, sacrifice and a dash of skullduggery.
The beautiful, rugged seascape of the Norman Archipelago isn’t simply a back-drop; for Hugo it’s a powerful and unpredictable player in the drama of life and death.
A theatrical exploration of the writing process
of a genius in exile.
The projections in this show feature drawings by Hugo himself...
Hugo was a prodigious intellect and his creativity was irrepressible. He wrote plays, poetry, novels, political speeches and tracts. He illustrated much of his work and Hauteville House, his Guernsey home for 15 years, is decorated with an idiosyncrasy which is marveled at to this day. Now a museum it was then a true family home; his two adult sons, his wife and surviving daughter were all with him during his exile. It was also a place of industry.
“There are no idle hands begging for the intervention of the devil at the Maison Hugo. Victor is the grand master of a literary factory!” George Sand.
His mistress, the love of his life, Juliette Drouet, lived close by and they spent time together everyday. Juliette and Hugo’s wife, Adele, were kept busy (separately) writing fair copies of his manuscripts.
“I dedicate this book....
to the rock of hospitality and liberty,
to that portion of old Norman ground
the noble little nation of the sea,
to the island of Guernsey,
severe yet kind,
my present asylum,
perhaps my tomb.”
VH. Hauteville House, March 1886
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Victor Ego or The Brainstorm
is designed to tour nationally and internationally.
The Toilers of the Sea tells the story of a young fisherman who falls dangerously in love with a beautiful young island girl. Her uncle, himself an intrepid seafarer, is the owner of a paddle steamer which plies its trade between Guernsey and St Malo on the coast of Brittany. The vessel is wrecked on a remote reef in suspicious circumstances and our brave young fisherman sets out alone to salvage the all important machinery, the steam engine itself. If he succeeds he will return home to the promised hand of the girl he daren’t even talk to.
Victor Hugo. In the 1850’s and 60’s, to avoid imprisonment by Napoleon III for his republican ideals, Victor Hugo exiled himself from France. He bought a house in Guernsey where, free from the distractions of Paris, he enjoyed his most productive time as a writer.
Apart from finishing his masterpiece ‘Les Miserables’, composing collections of poetry and much more besides, he wrote ‘The Toilers of the Sea’, a romantic adventure which unfolds in Guernsey, in nearby St Malo on the coast of Brittany, and on the sometimes treacherous waters in between.
For Hugo, ‘Toilers’ completed a trilogy where he deals with the three ‘fatalities’ faced by mankind; superstition in ‘Notre Dame’, prejudice in ‘Les Miserables’ and the power of nature in ‘The Toilers of the Sea'. .
"He arose each day at dawn, and took a quick dip in the sea,.. Then he went to a study that he had established for himself on the top floor, overlooking the sea, and wrote unceasingly until noon. Promptly at that hour he went to the sundeck, where he stripped, doused himself with several buckets of cold sea water, and massaged himself with a pair of rough gloves.” Noel Gerson, ‘A Tumultous Life’.