About Nan



The Scarlet Pimpernel

Saturday Night Fever

Camille Claudel

Published Works

Other Projects



Archived Answers

Thoughts on Writing





From Kate in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:
I am preparing to audition for the part of Marguerite in a high school musical, are there any tips that you would give me?

Friday, 7 December 2007

Dear Kate,

I hope my answer isn't getting to you too late. I'll be happy to give you my thoughts about Marguerite, but the important thing is probably whether or not your audition matches your director's vision of the character. Anyway, here are my "tips."

1) This is a very complicated and conflicted woman, so you always have to think of her as existing on many levels, touched by many colors. The one and only thing about her that is constant and unchanging is her inner love for Percy. I guess I should add to that- she also has unswerving love for her brother Armand.

2) Her inner love for Percy is unchanging, and yet Percy himself changes before her eyes. This is a major source of confusion to her and often a source of irritation, as when Percy acts like such a dithering fool in front of Chauvelin. She has utterly no idea how or why Percy changed. Her song "When I Look at You" is the ultimate statement of that. Something in her heart tells her that he is still the same man she fell in love with, but on the outside he's become a stranger to her. She is also terribly hurt that he has never wanted to be close to her physically since the day of their wedding. Part of her wants to just write him off as some superficial, cold fool whom she'd misjudged. Deep inside she still loves him and somehow knows he's still the same man.

3) Marguerite is a fiery woman. She fought for the cause of the revolution in the early days before it became so bloody and arbitrary. During those days, she had a love affair with Chauvelin, who possessed all the fire and fervor she herself felt. She was never in love with him, but there was a real mutual passion that sprung out of their devotion to the cause. When she saw the revolution change into a ghastly bloodbath, she withdrew from the cause, and when she saw Chauvelin become cruel-hearted and obsessed, she withdrew from him. It was also around this time that she met Percy and fell truly in love. This helped her to realize that all she felt for Chauvelin had been lust, not love. The problem is that she's still human and when Chauvelin shows up in England and sings "Where's the Girl?" to her, it really gets to her. She remembers vividly who she used to be, how she used to feel about him. Ultimately she spurns him, but she has a weak moment or two because he is so hypnotic and she can still remember how exciting it was to be his lover when they were both soldiers fighting side by side. The weak moments don't last long, however. She does know now that he is an unprincipled louse and the fact that she even wavered at all makes her former feelings easily turn into a hate for him and real fear of him. She knows what he's capable of. Most important thing to remember here: she is passionate, human, her husband has turned his back on her- for a moment Chauvelin does get to her again.

4) She is an actress. This was an unusual choice in those days- some people even thought of actresses as no better than tarts. Thus, part of her is sensitive to the fact that she was once thought of this way. It is also possible that because she was iconoclastic and independent, she may have had more than one lover before Percy. Additionally, because she is an actress, it is very easy for her to disguise herself and play a part when she travels back to France. There should be moments when we even distrust Marguerite a little because we know she is so good at playing a role. But again those should only be fleeting moments. We are meant to care for Marguerite and to sympathize with her very difficult situation.

5) She is brave. She will stop at nothing to save her brother, and she will gladly leap into a sword fight to try and help Percy. She's a force to be reckoned with.

6) She is torn between 2 countries- she's a Frenchwoman who fell in love with a British man. Her loyalties are often split here, too, which is something Chauvelin tries to take advantage of.

7) Her inner core is good and loyal and passionately loving. She is often misinterpreted because of the complex situations she faces. But by the footbridge scene, the audience should be totally with her, trusting her and rooting for her.

8) Lastly, it is not hard to see why men fall in love with her. She is a fascinating woman.

Hope this helps, Kate, and again I'm sorry for the delay in writing.

Best, Nan

All content Copyright © 2000-2015 Nan Knighton. All rights reserved.
Website designed and maintained by Peter Williams