U.Va. Drama Department to Stage Vaudeville-Inspired “Scapin”

October 16, 2006
Oct. 16, 2006 -- Saving the day by the seat of his baggy pants, “Scapin” sets the stage for fun at the University of Virginia this month.  The Drama Department production of Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell’s modern spin on Moliere’s classic French farce adds vaudeville and silent film comedy inspiration to an age-old carnival of love, revenge and serious silliness.  Directed by Marianne Kubik, “Scapin” runs Oct. 19-21 and 24-28 at 8 p.m. in the U.Va. Drama Building’s Helms Theatre.   

In this adaptation of Moliere’s “Les Fourberies de Scapin,” the wily, witty servant Scapin helps young lovers out of a jam and seeks revenge on his master, staying one step ahead of trouble all the way. In tangled exploits, Scapin and his friends careen (often literally!) into blind corners, zany disguises and mistaken identities. With live accompaniment by local pianist Art Wheeler—no stranger to silent film music, having tickled the ivories for many local screenings—the characters enthusiastically, often clumsily, scheme, stumble and plot their way toward happy endings, led by Scapin himself.

“The quality of Scapin I love most is that he's the quintessential, half-bumbling schemer, just barely getting by," says M.F.A. candidate J. Hernandez, playing the title role. “Scapin has the power to play the endearing, manipulating puppet master, but at the same time he is able to present (his) vulnerable, underdog, servant side.”

Director Marianne Kubik explains the appeal of “Scapin,” both historically and in its modern incarnation. “Bill Irwin is like a modern-day vaudevillian and silent film clown, and we don't see a lot of either influence today,” she explains. “While the foundation of this story might be French farce, its style is right out of early 20th-century American vaudeville stages and film studios. It's a different kind of comic style, and it requires a different kind of acting. We've been hard at work re-discovering this fading craft, and so far it's paid off in lots of laughter in the rehearsal process.”

Hernandez adds, “To put it simply…in our busy schedules here at U.Va., I think it's healthy to have a good laugh in the monotony of student life. Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell’s ‘Scapin’ is just the ticket…”

Tickets for “Scapin” are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors and $8 for students; full-time U.Va. students can use their ART$ Dollars to purchase tickets.  For more information, visit www.virginia.edu/drama or call the Drama Department Box Office at (434) 924-3376.  The box office is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.