Did you know what Pagnol's "César" owes to "Beulemans"?


It is not so much the inspiration which Pagnol found when attending a performance of "The Marriage of Miss Beulemans" in Brussels in 1926, but rather the audacity. The one he lacks to write a play with regional flavour, with characters who speak in their real language, tinged with the lilting accent of the Midi, and to create "Marius-Fanny-César".


The writer had already been working on this project for more than a year: "Because I felt exiled in Paris, I realised that I loved Marseilles and I wanted to express this close attachment by writing a play about Marseilles." But his friends had strongly advised him against it, believing that this type of play was doomed to failure and would only interest at best the inhabitants of Bouches-du-Rhône. "But in 1926, I saw a performance of "The Marriage of Miss Beulemans": this masterpiece was already 16 years old and its success had spread around the world. That evening I realised that a local, but deeply sincere and authentic work could take its place in the literary heritage of a country and appeal to the whole world."


The play "The Marriage of Miss Beulemans" by Fonson and Wicheler, is set in Brussels, where Suzanne Beulemans, the daughter of a wealthy brewer, is promised in marriage to Séraphin Meulemeester, the son of one of her father's competitors. This was without counting on the young girl's growing love for the brewery's Parisian trainee. The plot is fairly banal, so its success lies mainly in the comic flavour of the dialogues, mixing French, dialect and Brussels humour. This comedy was a resounding success, both in Belgium and abroad, from the moment of its premiere on 18 March 1910 at the Olympia Theatre in Brussels.