Sadler’s Wells London
Creators: Sylvie Guillem and Robert Lepage and Russell Maliphant
The Sony Centre for the Arts
November 18th, 2010 – November 19th, 2010
Career diplomat, part-time soldier and amateur spy, Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d’Éon, was familiar with both honour and defeat, with glory as well as exile. Beyond the romance of his life, what stands out is his extraordinary audacity. Éon was probably the first spy to use cross-dressing in the pursuit of his duties. This earned him a variety of enemies, including Louis XVI, who forced him to wear a dress all the time. Eventually people no longer knew whether he was a man or a woman.
The creators of Eonnagata asked the question differently. What if Charles de Beaumont was both man and woman? Midway between theatre and dance, Eonnagata pits the fan against the sword, the courtesan against the swordsman. But it also explores the embodying of one sex by the other in what is more an investigation of gender than of sexuality. The work draws on Onnagata, a Kabuki theatre technique that enables actors to represent women in a highly stylized fashion, shedding new light on the Chevalier d’Éon and revealing that his enigma is perhaps the mystery of human identity itself. (lacaserne.net)