The classic of French literature, “Le Petit Prince,” was presented as a dramatization in French on May 7 and 8 in the Texas Southmost College Arts Center. This remarkable event was prepared as a course project by Professor Suzanne LaLonde with the participation of her spring semester French Theater students as actors, production assistants, costume and stage-set designers, and handlers of the complex activities that a public event requires.
LaLonde wrote the libretto extracted from the famous novel, a task made possible by her familiarity with the text by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry published in 1943. To be present in Brownsville at a performance of a theater piece in the original French language was a distinct privilege. The true measure of the accomplishment becomes evident when one realizes that the actors are third-year undergraduate students who are in the French minor and major programs.
Among the 11 students who performed the various roles of the play, one cannot fail to mention, as a case apart, Rebeca Salomón, le petit prince. She was the central figure to whom the various character types converged. Each of them would find wisdom in the questions and the comments of the innocent child so well performed by Salomón. While a great deal of intelligence, work and determination had to go into the memorization of the text in a language being learned and not yet familiar for improvisation, it was really impressive to see and hear Salomón deliver her succession of parts flawlessly, confidently and clearly, as she did.
The other lead actors–Francisco Arredondo (the aviator and narrator), Berenice Saenz (the fox) and Yolanda Vidaña Rentería (the rose)–complemented Salomón’s role by performing with emotion and provoking emotions through music and visual props. Other student actors included Sarai Madrigal (the geographer and the queen), Maria Fernández González (the vain woman), Mariana Arredondo (the drunk), Marisol Córtez (the businesswoman and the flower), Claudia Ramírez (the lamplighter), Mary Morgan (the snake) and Dania Ruíz (a rose).
Aside from his literary genius, Saint-Exupéry is remembered as an aviation pioneer. He, and his colleague and friend Henri Guillaumet, extended the reach of airmail service to the remote Andes of Argentina and Chile. They were the airmen of Aeropostale. From the ashes of Aeropostale would eventually rise Air France, the emblematic airline of France. In Buenos Aires, Saint-Exupéry met Consuelo Suncín, a Salvadoran woman, whom he married, and who preserved his literary legacy after his death in 1944. While serving in the resistance to the German occupation of France, he crashed his plane into the sands of the Sahara desert. His work still captivates and lives on, however, in the hearts of many as made manifest in the thoughtful staged production of “The Little Prince” at UTRGV.