Since it was published in France in 2014, Édouard Louis’ coming of age story has reached close to half a million readers. Now the internationally acclaimed story is brought to life on stage in The End of Eddy in a collaboration between the UK’s highly acclaimed Unicorn Theatre and Scotland’s radical Untitled Projects in this Australian premiere for young audiences.
Édouard Louis was put on the international map at just 21 with this devastating true account of growing up gay and poor in rural France. The perpetual grey weather that hung over Eddy met its human counterparts in Eddy’s alcoholic father, miserable mother, brooding half-brother and a school culture of bullying, homophobia and misogyny. Eddy’s only option: to find a way out.
This adaptation of Louis’ moving memoir is anything but deflating, however, created especially for younger audiences and mustering a theatrical and televisual arsenal to reclaim the joie de vivre every outsider deserves. Two performers play Eddy and every other character in this lovingly detailed story, while a quartet of mobile TV screens expand the narrative into new dimensions.
Director Stewart Laing crafts an intimate production, drawing the audience into the story of Louis’ coming of age. Often manifesting a mischievous irreverence towards theatre conventions and tapping a profound vein of empathy, The End of Eddy draws out the universal themes inherent in this stunning autobiography to create something more.
“Pamela and I read The End of Eddy when it was first published in English – and we were convinced immediately of its potential as theatre,” said Stewart Laing. “Soon after we realised it would make sense to specifically tailor our adaptation for a young audience.”
“We felt that the issues the book explores from a young person’s perspective were under-represented in theatre for young people: sex, sexuality, class and violence all filtered through a clear political lens. It was a challenge, but we felt this was unusual and exciting territory for a young audience.”
The End of Eddy is a co-production between Scotland’s pioneering Untitled Projects’ team – visionary Scottish director Stewart Laing and writer Pamela Carter – and London’s Unicorn Theatre, the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences. The show premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2018.
Édouard Louis’ first novel, En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule (The End of Eddy) was published when he was 21 years old. It became an immediate bestseller and has now sold in excess of 300,000 copies in France, heralded as a literary revelation by El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Corriere della Sera and other publications. He is also the editor of Pierre Bourdieu: l’insoumission en heritage (2013).
In 2014 Louis received the Prix Pierre Guénin. His second novel, Histoire de la Violence (History of Violence), was adapted for the stage by Thomas Ostermeier and premiered in Berlin last year. Qui a tué mon père was published in 2018 in France and this year in English as Who Killed My Father.
Director: Stewart Laing Featuring: James Russell-Morley, Oseloka Obi Designer: Hyemi Shin Lighting Designer: Zerlina Hughes Video Designer: Finn Ross Sound Designer: Josh Anio Grigg Production Manager: Nick Millar Company Stage Manager: Fiona Johnston Associate Lighting: Carolina Sterzi Original Choreographer: Nima Séne Adaptation: Pamela Carter
The End of Eddy
Merlyn Theatre – The Coopers Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: 16 – 20 October 2019
Information and Bookings: www.festival.melbourne
Image: The End of Eddy – photo by Tommy Ga-Ken Wan