I was surprised to find that there was no female “Cyrano de Bergerac” on record (or at least on Wikipedia). This is because it is impolite to call a woman “ugly”; but you might call her “disabled”: and thus was born Siriana D. Bergmann, who, like me, has Multiple Sclerosis and uses a cane. The moment I visualized that cane flashing like a sword, I knew we could stride onto M. Rostand’s hallowed ground.
Siriana became a Professor of English Literature at NYU in New York in 1996, and that made perfect sense. The war, for our free verse poetess, is for women’s rights, and she was a leader in the feminist movement, with her female student followers calling themselves “The Cadettes.” Sirianna lives in the East Village, among the artists and wild youth. In 1996, there was a also a new war beginning in America: one between the rich and the poor with the middle class crushed in between. The edges of prosperity were starting to fray and food lines and repossessions were beginning to make headlines.
Le Bret is now a fellow NYU Professor called “The Brit”. Ragueneau, the French boulanger is now Raganno, the Italian baker. Ligniere has been redubbed Lee Genet. The Count De Guiche can be equally evil as Ceci Guisse. Montfleury has become Maria Flowers and the handsome Christian De Neuvillette, Cyrano’s rival, is now the beautiful Chrissie Newsome. And then, there’s the biggest challenge…a male equivalent of Cyrano’s secret love…Roxane….
He is, of course, a beautiful man. Women inspire him both on the canvas and in the bed. Setting the play in 1996 sets the play in an age where one can be careless and superficial…and identified by a graffiti tag. Take the name, Robert Xavier Yeager and voila! The hip and dazzling moniker: “Roxy.”
We have attempted to write most of the dialogue in pentameter with the occasional speech, as per M. Rostand. We have a Man (or Woman) in the Moon scene and the balcony scene, now set in Queens, N.Y. But what is romantic in a male lead would be masochistic in a female, so we have modified the plot a bit. And in 1996, the key event would be far more than a kiss.
The last scene stil comes 14 years later, but Siriana and Roxy have not seen each other in that time, although he has a poem written by Siriana, which he thinks is Chrissie’s. They meet one last time and this time, only Siriana’s heart is broken. And she accepts the loss of Roxy. She rises her cane to the sky and her last line is “We are not crippled! We are armed!” And that is how you write a female Cyrano.