While she is in the process of rehearsing her solo performance under the direction of Frédéric Patto of the TLF, we quickly understand that the challenge of this almost frail but determined-looking woman, is not trivial. Sam Vansteen is both the author and the performer of this play, which will première in San Francisco on Friday January 10th, 2020.
The first question that comes to mind is “why”? Why take such an interest in Zelda Fitzgerald to the point of writing a play?
This is a book by Gilles Leroy, Alabama Song which made me dive into the life of Zelda Fitzgerald almost 12 years ago. For the record, I was living in San Francisco at the time.
I was initially disturbed, angry with this American writer they all revere. In the United States Fitzgerald is the literary genius of the 20th century. But I was drawn to the story of Zelda. So, I read, read a lot on Zelda. Then on Scott.
After all I couldn’t hate him, since she loved him sincerely. Scott is as such a literary genius. But like any genius, he had his flaws and his dark side.
He looted his wife, he prevented her from living, he used her as the spark necessary for the birth of a new writing that will mark his century. They were also the first “celebrities”, the most Parisian American couple.
I often wonder if “The other side of paradise” without Zelda. Would Fitzgerald have had the literary spark without the threat of not marrying Zelda if he failed. She really was his muse.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a play?
I am a storyteller, whether I do it through images by making films or by writing shows. My first idea was to make a play, then I wanted to make a documentary but I couldn’t find a buyer. So I wrote other things and then one day, Frédéric Patto whom I know well, suggested a solo performance. I think that since then, I have submitted at least five versions!
So why create this play now?
It is the centenary of “The Other Side of Paradise”, so the centenary of their marriage and this year, I am turning 47, the same age as Zelda when she died…
We heard that you were very ambitious for this project, can you tell us more?
Absolutely! Our goal is to make the play travel, of course to perform on a Parisian stage but also to play in 2021 in the world famous Avignon theatre festival.
— After our interview, Sam Vansteen had to run back to the theater for rehearsal … a solo performance is a real long-distance race.
The performance that we will see on Friday January 10th, 2020 is therefore written and performed by Sam Vansteen
Direction and scenography: Frédéric Patto
Lighting design: Anne Gayan
Voice-over: Simon Larvanon
Graphic design Poster: Lise Buléon
Photos: Hélène Degy for Scott / Michel Seng for Zelda