Villanova Theatre’s 50th Anniversary season continues with the rollicking farce Le Dindon (An Absolute Turkey)
Article contributed by Meg Devine
Barrymore Award-winning director Harriet Power, who cast a spell over audiences with last year’s The Illusion, has orchestrated a comedy of preposterous proportions, with 21 actors spinning in organized chaos. The artistic team for Le Dindon includes Barrymore Award winners Charlotte Cloe Fox Wind (costumes), James F. Pyne, Jr. (set), and Jerold R. Forsyth (lights), and Barrymore nominee Mark Valenzuela (sound). Le Dindon (An Absolute Turkey) will be on stage November 11-23, 2008.
Complete with slamming doors and mistaken identity, Le Dindon (An Absolute Turkey) is a lightning-paced symphony of intrigues, betrayals and misunderstandings by the supreme master of farce, Georges Feydeau. A lecherous lout lusts after his friend’s wife, who hatches a mischievous revenge plot. Liaisons are arranged and bungled in a shady hotel, couples re-couple, and bedtime leads to bedlam. The delicious confusion leads to a climax that the New York Times called, simply, “Glorious!”
Director Harriet Power commented: “For audiences who’ve never seen or read Le Dindon, think ‘I Love Lucy’-style plot complications mixed with the sublime characters, clothing, and style of great 1930’s films. As director, I savor the challenge of making the farce fly while also capturing the warm, human moments Feydeau gives his characters. In our worrisome and politically difficult times, farce in general, and this play in particular, are good for the soul.”
Georges Feydeau was a French dramatist whose farces delighted Parisian audiences in the years immediately prior to World War I. He was an able actor and director and a prolific playwright, completing 39 plays between 1881 and 1916. Working in the tradition of the late 19th-century comic-dramatist Eugène Labiche, he took farce to new heights on the French stage. Feydeau’s plays are masterpieces of improbable contrivance, usually dependent on extreme, near-dangerous surprises that threaten marital bliss or temporarily topple the social order. His complex plots are worked out in great detail without any consequent loss of speed. Among his plays are A Flea in Her Ear (La Puce à l’oreille), The Girl from Maxim’s (La Dame de chez Maxim), and Keep an Eye on Amélie! (Occupe-toi d’Amélie!).
Harriet Power is an award-winning director and professor in the Villanova University Theatre Department, as well as the graduate theatre adviser. An active professional director and dramaturg, she recently directed the world premiere of Jeff Baron’s Brothers-in-Law (Act II Playhouse), the first reading of Michael Hollinger’s Ghost-Writer at New Dramatists (New York), and the first reading of Bruce Graham’s new play Any Given Monday for PlayPenn. She was recently appointed Associate Artistic Director of Act II Playhouse, where she will direct James Still’s Iron Kisses this March. Other recent directing credits: Michael Hollinger and Vince Lehmkuhl’s new musical A Wonderful Noise (New Dramatists, New York), the world premieres of Seth Rozin’s Reinventing Eden and Missing Link (InterAct Theatre Company); Measure for Measure (Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, Barrymore nomination, Best Direction), Syncopation (Act II), and several staged readings at the Wilma and Philadelphia Theatre Company. Angels in America: Perestroika, which she co-directed with Emeritus Professor Dr. James J. Christy for Villanova Theatre in 1997, earned three Barrymore awards for Best Direction, Ensemble, and Supporting Actress and an additional five nominations. Overseas directing credits include Donald Margulies’ Dinner With Friends at Teatro L’Arciliuto in Rome, Italy (a “Best of Rome” winner in the newsweekly Trova Roma). Recent Villanova productions, in addition to last season’s The Illusion: Chekhov’s Three Sisters, Sebastian Barry’s Fred and Jane, Michael Hollinger’s Incorruptible, and Yasmina Reza’s Art. Ms. Power serves on the F. Otto Haas Emerging Artist Award selection committee. She received her M.F.A. in Directing from the University of Iowa.
The cast of Le Dindon (An Absolute Turkey) is a group perfectly suited to showcase Villanova Theatre’s talented students and graduates during the theatre’s 50th Anniversary season. The 21 actors in Le Dindon include 17 MA in Theatre students, one Villanova undergraduate, a Villanova professor of German, and two alumni of the MA in Theatre program.
The Villanova University Theatre Department came into being in 1958. Today, the Department offers both a Master of Arts degree and a Graduate Certificate in Practical Theatre. Students enrolled in the theatre program undergo a course of study that combines scholarly and artistic approaches to theatre. Guided by award-winning faculty and staff who are actively involved in the region’s professional theatre industry, students gain knowledge and experience through hands-on production work and in-depth academic study in the areas of dramaturgy, script analysis, dramatic literature, playwriting, acting, directing, solo performance, and design.
Villanova Theatre is located in Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets cost $20-$24 for the public; $10 for staff and faculty; and $7 for students. Discounts are available for seniors and groups. Tickets may be ordered through the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474 or online at www.theatre.villanova.edu.