I also love dance, and one of my favorite “reimagineers” is Matthew Bourne, who’s taken stories such as Swan Lake and Edward Scissorhands and given them his own unique twist. So I couldn’t believe my luck on my recent trip home when Bourne’s The Car Man was playing at my hometown theatre. I was dying to see how he would reimagine Bizet’s classic tale of passion, jealousy, and loyalty. I grabbed a couple of tickets and my mother, and went to see for myself.
Bourne set his story in a 1960s Italian-American community, and while it contained many of the story elements and characters from the original opera, and was set to Bizet’s music, Bourne twisted the story to make it his own. His Don Jose is a shy trainee mechanic who gives up his sweetheart (and ultimately his freedom) for the seductive Car Man, a handsome stranger who wanders into town. The Car Man in turn seduces a second “Carmen”, the alluring young wife of the garage owner. Needless to say, mayhem ensues and the story is full of twists and surprises. Even so, the heart of Carmen remains, and Bourne’s story is still ultimately about passion, jealousy, and loyalty.
You can hear Matthew Bourne talk about his inspiration in this interview.
I’ve been thinking about reimagined stories a lot as I dive into editing my novel. Although it was inspired by real events in history, which I wrote about in this post, not much more than the name of the village, some characters, and the kernel of the original story remain. Still, I hope that, like Bourne, in adapting the tale to tell my own story, I’ll succeed in keeping intact the heart of the original story that I loved so much.
Do you have a reimagined story that you love? If so, how close does it come to the original?