Thursday, 9 October 2014

Victor Hugo- Les Misérables From Page to Stage {State Library of Victoria Exhibition}

Is there anybody out there who hasn't seen a production of Les Misérables?

It is one of those shows that just sticks in your head. I think most of us have probably belted out a bit of 'Castle in the Clouds' in a school choir or hummed the chorus of 'On My Own' through periods of teenage heartbreak.

Just me?

Despite my love of the music of 'Les Mis' I didn't really know much about it. I certainly did not know that it was originally a novel that took seventeen years to write, or that its author was living in exile for much of this time.

The State Library of Victoria has this extraordinary book on display as part of the 'Victor Hugo - Les Misérables from Page to Stage Exhibition. As remarkable as the musical is, the man behind the original story exceeds all expectation. A prolific novelist, poet, dramatist, visual artist and a voice for Paris and the city's poor; he has left behind a significant body of work. This is the first time the book has left Europe and is just a small part of the exhibition which includes rare books from a number of collections, artwork by Victor Hugo, and as the title of the exhibition suggests, a number of rare items from the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company Production and the Academy Award winning film (including Helena Bonham-Carter's costume!).

Much of the exhibition does not allow photographs due to the rare nature of the items on display. However, the second gallery is interactive- you can even pop on a costume and have a bit of a sing if you want. While the first gallery will satisfy the history buff, the second is all about the theatre geek with exquisitely detailed costumes and set pieces from theatrical productions on display.

If you've ever crooned 'I dreamed a dream' in the shower (just me?) you really should get along to see where it all began.

Victor Hugo- Les Misérables From Page to Stage until the 9th of November at the State Library of Victoria. Entry is $12-$15 and family passes are available.

PS. The Bookworm scored us some tickets through his arty channels. All opinions and ideas in this post are unsponsored and my own.

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