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Monica’s “Other Life”

When Monica Neagoy is not wearing her "mathematics hat," she is most often wearing her "theatre hat." Up until June of 2003, in her evening-and-weekend life, she was the artistic co-director of the professional LE NEON Theatre in the Washington D.C. area. She directed 22 productions with Didier Rousselet, artistic director and founder, and also performed in 22. She co-wrote 10 original LE NEON creations and four original adaptations. Productions directed by Mr. Rousselet and Ms. Neagoy received several Helen Hayes nominations and an award. They also received other national and international theatre awards for their work: for example, the 1999 Theatre Lobby's Mary Goldwater Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction, and the 2000 Canadian/ Washington Theatre Partnership Award. In the summer of 2003, after 16 years and over 50 productions, Dr. Neagoy and Mr. Rousselet chose to close LE NEON Theatre to pursue other professional and artistic endeavors.

Ms. Neagoy has also completed her first film, Five Days in Paris, which premiered in April 1994 at The Kennedy Center for the performing arts in DC, as part of the annual FILMFEST DC. She had the lead female role in the film.

 "When it comes to acting style, LE NEON may be the most original company in the area."

Nelson Pressley, The Washington Post

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LE NEON Theatre

LE NEON Theatre was founded in 1987 by French-born actor,


stage director, and doctor in theatrical studies, Didier Rousselet, who worked with Ariane Mnouchkine and other renowned French directors. Monica Neagoy joined LE NEON in 1988 and became co-director in 1992 when LE NEON became a professional theatre company and settled into its own space, a small storefront black-box theatre in North Arlington. In 1997, under the auspices of the Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division, LE NEON opened its 11th season in a spacious, 379-seat, elegant theatre in the heart of Rosslyn called The Rosslyn Spectrum, at 1611 N. Kent Street in Rosslyn. In twelve seasons, LE NEON offered the Washington community 36 productions (a combination of plays, original creations and adaptations) performed in English, French, or a combination of both languages. Over the years, LE NEON Theatre has successfully secured a place for itself on the competitive theatre map of the Nation's Capital, garnering acclaim for its unique art form--stylized acting typified by dance-like physicality--often characterized by the press as Néonesque.

LE NEON Theatre’s Five Tenets (Les Piliers du NEON)

Since its inception in 1987, LE NEON Theatre has been faithful to its founding mission. The mission is defined by six artistic tenets:

  • To create a multi-cultural French-American theatre accessible to all audiences;
  • To use texts as "pretexts". The selection of texts is not limited to theatrical plays, but includes short stories, novellas, novels or original themes. This variety of literary sources allows for greater creativity in innovative adaptations and original creations;
  • To strive for original artistic creation through group reflection, dramatic physicality, and collaborative improvisations;
  • To develop a unique, stylized, and highly visual theatre form--essentially a theatre of images--that transcends the barriers of language and culture;
  • To explore new ways of using the physical space of the entire theatre, placing the spectators at the heart of the action;
  • To provoke the mind, touch the heart, and especially enchant the senses

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Pictures and Press Reviews—A Selection

La Vagabonde

2003

"Le Neon has packed a last look at many of the elements that have made their productions unique into this, the last production before founders Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy shut the theater company down in order to move on with their lives in non-theatrical directions. It is a last chance for those who have enjoyed their work in the past to enjoy it again, and for those who have missed the earlier efforts to see some of what all the attention was about. It is more than “a sampler” but its real value is as a souvenir."              

Potomac Stages

"Le Neon bids fond adieu with a sterling production of "La Vagabonde", a cabaret-style presentation with song and mime about the life and loves of the famous French writer, Colette. What a loss for theater audiences of this amazingly creative French/American Company that started in a cubby hole on Lee Highway and moved into larger spaces. Always superb, they have saved the best to the last.... 

This is a highly recommended evening of theater and attendance is probably the best gift to give to Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy who provided outstanding leadership to this "swell" company."

 Bob Anthony, Arts Critic

 

Monica Neagoy (center) with Alisa Bernstein (left) and Ellie Nicoll..    

"Like earlier Le Neon ventures, it encapsulates all the delights ... of the company's performance style, which emphasizes image and physicality.  "La Vagabonde" offers a refreshing break from psychological realism ... It's an interesting history, and seeing Colette's performances re-created is entertaining as well as enlightening ... What it all adds up to is an impressionistic form of theatrical archaeology."                                                                                                                                                                     

The Washington Post

 

 

 

 Monica Neagoy (left) with Didier Rousselet and Dominique Montet

 

 

The Man Who Laughs

2002

“LE NEON kicks off its celebration of the bicentennial of the birth of Victor Hugo with a new version of their adaptation of Hugo’s novel of unrequited

Le Neon has revived its production of “The Man Who Laughs” an adaptation of an 1869 novel by Victor Hugo that pits the forces of good against greed and vice. As they have in other LE NEON productions, directors Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet bring their distinctive style of physical theater to the work … The original production netted the Theatre a Helen Hayes Award nomination in 1997 for Outstanding New Play … Rousselet and Neagoy create a piece that is visually interesting, with a series of arresting pictures enhanced by costumes, lighting and a spare set that underscore the sense of a fable.” 

Dolores Whiskeyman, The Washington Post

 

 

“Set in 18-th Century London, “The Man Who Laughs” contrasts the cruelty and hedonism of aristocrats with the plight of the masses…Didier Rousselet takes the lead role as Gwynplaine, a descendent of aristocracy who was disfigured as a youth by unscrupulous child buyers. His mouth displays raw gums and teeth from ear to ear … he falls in love with Dea (Monica Neagoy), Ursus’ beautiful blind daughter. Dea cannot see Gwynplaine’s ugliness and loves him for his caring and humanity…Also serving as directors and make-up designers, Rousselet and Neagoy bring tenderness to their roles.”

 

Brian Trompeter. The Arlington Sun Gazette

 

 

 

 

Les Cloisons (Performed in French or English on alternating nights)

2001

Rousselet and Neagoy directed and perform the piece. Rousselet is one of the most gifted physical performers around. Think of a Fred Astaire schooled by a Marcel Marceau … Neagoy is more voluptuous and a bit earthier, and her ability to telegraph thought through posture and movement is a match for his. There is poetry in her timing of the click of a suitcase lock or a pause to listen.”

                                Brad Hathaway, The Arlington Connection 

“In this expressionistic world exploring the tensions between desire and repulsion, LE NEON has found the perfect vehicle for the stylized “theater of images” it seeks to create. As adapted, directed, choreographed and played by LE NEON Artistic Co-directors Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy, Languirand’s amusing 1962 play becomes a dance fable; te most revealing moments are those in which nothing is said.”

                                                                                Dolores Whiskeyman, The Washington Post

 

 

 

Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy bring back their gentle gem of a two person encounter … Together, they create a magical connection with a timing that is pure partnership. Her click of a suitcase latch, his had to ear to hear her sound—as the psychic connection between them grows, so does the complexity of their interaction … The company puts on a physical performance style that almost makes language superfluous.”

Potomac Stages

 “Les Cloisons” is a showcase for the considerable talents of Neagoy and Rousselet, whose comic performances sustain interest to the inevitable ending.”

 Dolores Whiskeyman, The Washington Post

 

 

 

 

 

Cyrano de Bergerac

1999

This classic, written by Edmond Rostand, was directed by Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet.

 "With Cyrano de Bergerac, LE NEON Theatre offers us a story with breadth and depth, and a polished gem of a production.

 Cheryl Kenny, The Arlington Journal

 

 

 

 


Monica Neagoy as Roxane, Patrick Sweetman as Christian, and Didier Rousselet as Cyrano de Bergerac (foreground).

Monica Neagoy and Tel Monks as Compte De Guiche in Cyrano de Bergerac

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinating French Feast

Fall 1998

An original creation by LE NEON, written and directed by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy.

"Special kudos to LE NEON co-director and actress Monica Neagoy, whose comic abilities have mushroomed. This ravishing, raven-haired woman is barely recognizable and extremely funny as the babbling old granny and one of the odd businessmen, and also as an obnoxious teenager on a picnic with her bourgeois parents."

                        Pamela Summers, The Washington Post

 

Monica Neagoy (left), Paola Durant (center), and Christine Herzog in Fascinating French Feast.

 

 

Jules and Jim

Spring 1998

An original adaptation by LE NEON of Henri-Pierre Roché's novel, Jules et Jim, directed by Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet.

"Jewels and Gem, I mean Jules and Jim."

Mary Ryan, The Review

Monica Neagoy (as Kate), John Benoit (left) as Jim and Jon Sherman as Jules 

"Three cheers for this amazing company ... There is not a more creative performing group in this area ... Do give them a try this season ... you'll like their work."

Bob Anthony, Theatre Critic

Salome

1997

This well-known play, inspired by the biblical story of Salome and Saint John the Baptist, was originally written in French by Oscar Wilde (1895). LE NEON’s production was directed by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy.

"Neagoy is a pulsating, passionate Salome and Benoit a wonderfully expressive Iokanaan. We can almost feel the shivers run across his body whenever Salome gets too close."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monica Neagoy as Salome and John Benoit as Iokanaan

 

 

 

 

 

Women and the Forest

1996

"Especially effective are Dominique Montet as the sorceress and Monica Neagoy as the mad woman. The rest of the company are fine in their cinematic-like acting support for which this company is renown."

Bob Anthony, Art Critic

WOMEN AND THE FOREST, Parts I and II, were original LE NEON creations based on texts by Racine, Michelet, Maupassant, and a newspaper article by Le Monde. Part I was co-directed by Didier Rousselet and Dominique Montet; Part II by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy.

 Monica Neagoy as the mad woman in Women and the Forest, Part II

Diane Key, Plays International London

 

 

 

The Man Who Laughs

1996

An original adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel “L'Homme qui rit,” directed by Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet.

"Rousselet and Neagoy portray, respectively, Gwynplaine and Dea with a quiet intensity and physicality that bespeaks their training in mime and other movement forms."

Pamela Summers, The Washington Post

 Monica Neagoy (as Dea) and Didier Rousselet (as Gwynplaine) in the foreground and Richard Bauer (as Ursus) in The Man Who Laughs.

 

 

 

 

 

No Exit/Huis Clos (Performed in French or English on alternating nights)

1994

An existentialist play by Jean-Paul Sartre, directed by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy.

 "They seem to float with balletic grace, like astronauts in zero gravity... LE NEON's production is electrifying, mesmerizing and provocative."

J. Ferruggia, The Arlington Courier

Monica Neagoy as Estelle (left), Didier Rousselet (as Garcin) and Chantal Maillat (as Ines) in No Exit, by Jean-Paul Sartre.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Public Recognition from the Theatre Community

 

1988 The project LE JUGEMENT DERNIER DES ROIS/LAST JUDGEMENT ON THE KINGS wins a prize in AN international competition "Inventer 89."

1992 THE PING PONG PLAYERS is filmed and aired several times at prime time on local television channels.

1994 The film FIVE DAYS IN PARIS, in which 8 actors of LE NEON played, including Monica Neagoy in the lead female role and Geoffroy Ville in the lead male role, plays at The Kennedy Center as part of FILMFEST DC.

1994 Roger Planchon comes France to LE NEON to read his play LES LIBERTINS. Channel 5 airs a report on LE NEON.

1995 The play NO EXIT receives a Helen Hayes nomination for best sound track. Marie France Ionesco, daughter of playwright Eugene Ionesco, and Jorge Lavelli honor a performance of LA CANTATRICE CHAUVE (The Bald Soprano) with their presence.

1996 Arena Stage "loans" LE NEON its star actor Richard Bauer to play in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. THE MAN WHO LAUGHS is selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts (WAPAVA). WOMEN AND THE FOREST is also selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts (WAPAVA).

1997 THE MAN WHO LAUGHS receives a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding New Play of 1996. The play was written by Susan Haedicke, Monica Neagoy, and Didier Rousselet; it was directed by Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet, who also held the lead roles. On May 3rd, a sold-out gala at the French Embassy celebrates LE NEON's 10th anniversary. LE NEON is selected by The Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division as the first company to program its entire 1997-98 season in the new Rosslyn Spectrum. SALOME was selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts (WAPAVA).

1998 SALOME receives the Theatre Lobby's Mary Goldwater Award for Outstanding Costume Design. LE NEON’s BECKETT FESTIVAL is selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts (WAPAVA).

1999 LE NEON Theatre receives the Theatre Lobby's Mary Goldwater Award for Excellence in Artistic Direction. LE NEON Theatre is invited to give three performances at The Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage, under the "French Summer Program." A BECKETT FESTIVAL (parts I & II) is selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts.

2000 RENARD THE FOX receives a Helen Hayes nomination for Outstanding Costume Design. Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy receive the Canadian/ Washington Theatre Partnership Award. They are invited by the Canadian Embassy to spend 10 days in Canada, visiting theatres and attending plays—in the hope of “bringing more Canadian art to the Washington Metropolitan area.” They did so the following year.

2001: LE NEON Theatre makes an original adaptation of a 1962 play by French Canadian playwright Jacques Languirand. The playwright attends the opening night as is moved by “Didier and Monica’s transformation of my play into something I myself could never imagine.”  LES CLOISONS/PARTITIONS is selected for recording by the Washington Archives for the Performing Arts (WAPAVA). LA BELLE AU BOIS DORMANT (Sleeping Beauty) is performed at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

2001: Monica Neagoy and Didier Rousselet of LE NEON are invited by Ryan Brown of Opera Lafayette, a Baroque Music Ensemble, to co-direct and perform in a collaborative work between the two performing arts groups at the annual summer Redwoods Festival in Sonoma County, CA. They gave an additional performance of this co-production at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall, in the fall. EXERCICES DE STYLE is performed at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.

2002: LES CLOISONS, directed, choreographed and performed by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy, receives a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Sound Design (Daniel Portaix did the sound design).

2003: Through LE NEON’s production of LA VAGABONDE, an original creation written and directed by Didier Rousselet and Monica Neagoy (from the adaptation of two works by French writer Colette—La Vagabonde and L’Envers du Music Hall), the co-directors bid farewell to their devoted theatre troupe and the Washington theatre community. They chose to turn a new leaf and move on to another chapter of professional and artistic endeavors.

Over the course of 16 theatre seasons, approximately 220 articles on LE NEON have been collectively published by the American press and international press. Plays International (London) occasionally and Journal du Theatre (Paris) regularly cover LE NEON's productions.

This 17-year experience was exhilarating, edifying, enlightening, and enriching—unique and unforgettable—thanks to a wonderful collaboration between the directors, the marvelous staff and the dedicated and talented actors. Thank you all!

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Sixteen Theatrical Seasons (1987-2003)

1988

LE SYSTEME DU DOCTEUR GOUDRON ET DU PROFESSEUR PLUME (The System of Dr. Tarr and professor Fether) Original adaptation based on a short story by E.A. Poe

 

1989

LE JUGEMENT DERNIER DES ROIS by P.S. Maréchal

HE, DIS, JEANNETTE! by D. Rousselet  

 

1990

LA TOUR DE BABEL Original creation

EN ATTENDANT SON RETOUR Original adaptation based on a short story by E. Keriben

 

1991

LA LEÇON by E. Ionesco

EN PASSANT by R. Queneau

 

1992

PASSING BY by R. Queneau

THE PING PONG PLAYERS by W. Saroyan

FASCINATING AMERICA Original creation

ANTINEA Original adaptation based on a novel by P. Benoit

LA CHUTE Original adaptation based on a novel by A. Camus

 

1993

THE SYSTEM OF DOCTOR TARR AND PROFESSOR FETHER Original adaptation based on a short story by E.A. Poe

FASCINATING FRENCH FEAST (Reprise) Original creation

L'AMOUR MEDECIN by Molière

UN COEUR SIMPLE Original adaptation based on a short story by G. Flaubert

HUIS CLOS by J-P. Sartre

 

1994

LA FAMILLE FENOUILLARD Original adaptation based on a comic strip by Christophe

CHILDREN OF THE JAZZ AGE Original adaptation based on short stories by F.S. Fitzgerald

GARGANTUA Original adaptation based on a novel by F. Rabelais

NO EXIT by J.P. Sartre

 

1995

LA CANTATRICE CHAUVE & THE BALD SOPRANO by E. Ionesco

FADING LIGHT Original creation based on a novel by M. Duras

LE HARENG SAUR by Charles Cros

SILENTS Original creation

 

1996

L'HOMME QUI RIT Original creation based on a novel by V. Hugo

UNE FILLE BIEN GARDEE &

LES SUITES D'UN PREMIER LIT by E. Labiche

WOMEN AND THE FOREST Part I, Original creation based on texts by Racine, Michelet, and Maupassant

WOMEN AND THE FOREST Part II, Original creation based on texts by Racine, Michelet, and Maupassant

 

1997

BECASSINE Original adaptation based on comic strips by Caumery and Pinchon

SALOME by Oscar Wilde

 

1998

LOVE IS THE BEST DOCTOR (L'AMOUR MEDECIN) by Molière

MOLIERE IN SCHOOL An abridged version of L’AMOUR MEDECIN for the Educational Outreach Program

JULES AND JIM Original adaptation based on a novel by H.-P. Roché

FASCINATING FRENCH FEAST Original creation (New Version)

 

1999

RENARD THE FOX Original adaptation based on LE ROMAN DE RENARD, A collection of medieval French Tales

RENARD IN SCHOOL Abridged version of RENARD THE FOX for the Educational Outreach program

A BECKETT FESTIVAL, Parts I and II   Two selections of short plays by Samuel Beckett

CYRANO DE BERGERAC by Edmond Rostand

 

2000

CYRANO TOUT COURT Abridged version of CYRANO DR BERGERAC for both the main stage and the Educational Outreach Program

PRINCESSES by Fatima Gallaire

PORTRAITS PARISIENS by Charles Cros and Didier Rousselet

 

2001

THE VELVETEEN GENTLEMAN Mixed-media adaptation of works by and about Erik Satie

LA BELLE AU BOIS DORMANT Original adaptation of Charles Perrault’s fairy tale for both the main stage and the Educational Outreach Program

THE IMAGINARY INVALID (Excerpts) by Molière—A collaboration with Opera Lafayette

LES CLOISONS/PARTITIONS Original adaptation of the play by Jacques Languirand

 

2002

THE MAN WHO LAUGHS Original creation based on Victor Hugo’s novel of the same title (new version)

LES CLOISONS/PARTITIONS (Reprise) Original adaptation of the play by Jacques Languirand

EXERCICES DE STYLE by Raymond Queneau

 

2003

LA VAGABONDE Original creation based on two novels by Colette

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