Victor Ego or
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 story of Victor Hugo’s political exile in Guernsey and with a novel he wrote there, The Toilers of the Sea.
We all know of Les Miserables and (The Hunchback of) Notre Dame, but we know very little about Hugo’s immense and tumultuous career.
Victor Ego or The Brainstorm follows the twists and turns of Hugo's romantic adventure, as they illuminate the challenges and tragedies of his professional and personal life.
I will not be seduced. I take my stand for the highest reasons, for sacred reasons. Liberty herself is an exile while this regime prevails. She is my companion here. When Liberty returns to France I shall return...VH
Hugo, at work alone in his studio, brainstorms 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 good 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 animated projections in this production feature drawings by Hugo himself... ever creating....
Victor Hugo was a polymath, a prodigious intellect and his creativity was irrepressible. He wrote plays, poetry, novels, political speeches and tracts. He was the acknowledged leader of the Romantic movement, elected to the National Assembly, and a vigorous campaigner for many varied causes including social justice, the abolition of the death penalty and medieval architecture.
He illustrated much of his work and Hauteville House, his Guernsey home for 15 years, is decorated with an idiosyncrasy which is marvelled 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.
“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.
A 5 min description of the project.
Victor Ego or The Brainstorm
is designed to tour nationally and internationally.
The play has been enthusiastically received in regional NSW and on the island of Guernsey, it's spiritual home.
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.
“I dedicate this book....
to the rock of hospitality and liberty,
to that portion of old Norman ground
inhabited by 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
For Hugo, ‘Toilers’ completed a trilogy where he deals with the three ‘fatalities’ faced by mankind; superstition in ‘Notre Dame’, social 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’.
'Who was the greatest French writer of the 19th century?'
'Unfortunately Victor Hugo.' ...Andre Gide.
'Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo.' ...Jean Cocteau.
Vowing fidelity to his mistress, Juliette Drouet, Hugo swore with one hand on the Bible, the other on a copy of Les Miserables.
Part One is 60 Mins, Part Two 45 mins.
Approx 2 Hours including Interval
For more info, interviews & images please contact: