April 23, 2004

Contact: Charla Jenkins, University Theatre, (785) 864-2684.

KU Theatre closes season with French farce April 30-May 1 and May 4-8

LAWRENCE -- A new adaptation of Moliere's dark comedy, "George Dandin," will be presented by the University of Kansas Department of Theatre and Film and the University Theatre to close out the 2003-04 William Inge Memorial Theatre Series. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. April 30, May 1 and May 4 through 8, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 2, in the Inge Theatre in Murphy Hall.

Mechele Leon, assistant professor of theatre and film, who adapted the text from a long-neglected 18th century English translation, is directing the production. Joining Leon on the production team are scenic designer Jennifer Luck, Birmingham, Ala., graduate student; costume designer Sandy Appleoff, Falls City, Neb., graduate student; and lighting designer Robbie Jones, Garden City graduate student.

Rarely performed in the United States, "George Dandin" was written in 1668 and deals with social class and marital infidelity.

In the play, Dandin, a wealthy commoner, has bought his way into the aristocracy by marrying the daughter of penniless nobles. But his money has been badly spent: His spirited bride is having a romance with a handsome nobleman. The humiliated Dandin attempts to expose his wife's infidelity, but his efforts are thwarted at every turn and the tables are turned against him.

Leon said the play was controversial when it premiered in Paris in 1668 and remained so well into the 18th century. The play scandalized the moralists of pre-revolutionary France, who regularly denounced the play for its shameless depiction of adultery.

Ultimately, the play is about the struggle between the classes.

"The play depicts a world in which attempts to rise above one's social station are futile," Leon said. "The effect of this play on the elite audiences of its day was to legitimize an immutable social order in which ranks remain in their place. For popular Parisian audiences, the play served as a warning against 'inappropriate ambitions.'"

Leon, now in her third year at KU, holds degrees from the State University of New York, Empire State College and Cornell University. She also holds a graduate degree from the University of Paris with a specialty in French theatre of the 17th and 18th centuries, with a focus on the plays of Moliere, issues of cultural memory and national identity in France, and the theatre during the Revolution of 1789.

In conjunction with the play, the Department of Theatre and Film, University Theatre, and the Department of Music and Dance will present "Lully and Moliere: A Colloquium and Concert" at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in the Inge Theatre. Presenters include Leon, speaking on "'George Dandin' in Production"; Paul Scott, assistant professor of French and Italian, on "The Tragic Function of Comedy"; and Paul Laird, associate professor of music and dance, speaking on "Lully, Dance and French Dramatic Music." Following the presentations will be a concert by the Instrumental Collegium Musicum, directed by Laird, featuring excerpts from Jean-Baptiste Lully's "George Dandin" and "Alceste." Admission to the afternoon event is free.

General admission tickets for "George Dandin" are on sale in the KU ticket offices: University Theatre, (785) 864-3982; Lied Center, (785) 864-ARTS; SUA, (785) 864-7469; and http://kutheatre.com. Tickets are $12 for the public, $10 for all students and $11 for senior citizens.

Members of the cast for the KU production are (listed by name, class, parents' names, high school, and role):

DOUGLAS COUNTY
From Lawrence
Summer M. Eglinski, junior, daughter of Ed and Pam Eglinski, Lawrence Free State High School; Madame Sotenville.

JOHNSON COUNTY
From Leawood
Christina Schafer, senior, daughter of William and Katherine Schafer; Blue Valley High School; Angelique.

From Lenexa
Brandon Ford, freshman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Walker; Olathe East High School; Clitander.

From Overland Park
Katherine McRobbie, senior, daughter of Elaine McRobbie; Shawnee Mission East High School; Claudine.

MIAMI COUNTY
From Paola
Justin Anselmi, freshman, son of Janie Anselmi and Keith and Patty Anselmi; Paola High School; Lubin.

SHAWNEE COUNTY
From Topeka
Eric F. Avery, sophomore, son of Mary Ann Avery and Mr. and Mrs. John Avery; Highland Park High School; Colin.

FLORIDA
From Holiday
Steve Ducey, junior, son of Thomas B. and Arleen Ducey; Blue Valley North High School; Sir Sotenville.

MINNESOTA
From Lakeville
Justin Knudsen, sophomore, son of Ken and Barb Knudsen; Lakeville Senior High School; George Dandin.

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