Les Mis is Davis High’s production this year

Indiana Jones

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Indiana Jones, Reporter

This year, Davis High is producing a musical of the classic Les Miserables, a well-known story written in the 19th century by Victor Hugo. Something often forgotten about the original story is all of the real life influences that caused Hugo to write the book the way he did. Hugo wrote his story of social injustice in 1862 and focused it, not on the French Revolution as many suppose, but on the insurgents that attempted to start their own revolution in 1832.

Sparked by the death of a popular French general, General Jean Maximilien Lamarque, people of Paris took to the streets originally intending to accompany the general’s hearse, but later devolved into a mob that began erecting little ‘barricades’  around the city. Victor Hugo had been nearby, writing a play, when he had heard the gunshots and left to investigate. While walking down a street surrounded by barricades, the firing started up again with Hugo hiding behind a column along the street.

The ‘revolution’ ended quickly because the insurgents at the barricades didn’t receive any support from the rest of Paris, and after hundreds of them were killed or wounded, the insurgents were shut down. Author Mark Traugott wrote in his book The Insurgent Barricade, “The last guns were silenced a barely twenty-four hours after hostilities had begun.”

This experience left a mark on Victor Hugo, and led to him including it in a section of Les Miserables when he wrote it three decades later. Some time after the story earned critical acclaim, it became further immortalized in the form of the Les Miserables musical, and has since been played in theatres all over the world.

In an effort to keep close to the spirit of the story, the cast will be spending a lot of time working on the production. “We’re going to be spending about two hours [practicing] almost every day except for Thursday, every week until November,” says Lance Thornton, who plays a lead role in the play. They also are trying to capture the emotion that made the book popular in the first place. Bryant Ferrin, a member of the cast, said, “I’ve suddenly realized a lot more what the words mean, and what the character would have felt, and so I feel a lot closer to the musical.” The Davis High production of Les Miserables will start showings on November 13th, and will run until November 21st.