Drama festival offers up witty, entertaining period comedies this month


[img_inline align=”right” src=”http://padnws01.mcmaster.ca/images/drama2.gif”]This year, McMaster University's Summer Drama Festival is producing two full-length productions, Moliere's Tartuffe and Christopher Fry's The Lady's Not For Burning. Both are witty and entertaining period comedies chosen to challenge McMaster's theatre students and engage the community both on campus and the surrounding area.

The McMaster University Summer Drama Festival is a student-run, not-for-profit, co-operative theatre organization.

The festival's mission this summer is threefold:

* to provide an opportunity for those community members interested in theatre to gain practical experience whether as cast or crew;

* to explore those plays which complement the academic component of McMaster's drama program. In short, we will pursue theatre that is of artistic and scholarly value – theatre not often produced in a commercial setting;

* to extend our role within the cultural community of Westdale, and Hamilton as a whole, by complementing our artistic endeavours with the desire to provide both compelling and accessible theatre to the local community.

In keeping with this mission, the plays showcase individuals with a wide variety of academic and practical experience who share one thing in common: their love for theatrical performance and their desire to excel artistically. The participants of the Summer Drama Festival have continually displayed their commitment to nurture burgeoning artists and to provide challenging theatre to cast, crew and audience members alike. Many of our past members have gone on to work with The Scaffold Theatre Project, The Alchemist Theatre, Theatre on the Grand, and the Shaw Festival.

This year's first production, Moliere's Tartuffe, is a neoclassical comedy of rhyme, where the sly and wily hypocrite, Tartuffe, weasels his way into the home and heart of the wealthy but naive Orgon. Orgon's entire family is able to see through Tartuffe's guise and thus seeks to foil his plan to lay claim to Orgon's fortunes and his daughter. Tartuffe is a sinfully comic romp through lust, religion, revenge, greed, and all things decadent: it is a lucid and biting expose of humanity's unenviable ability to exploit all things good in the pursuit of material gain.

The second feature,The Lady's Not for Burning, by Christopher Fry, takes place in the fictional medieval town of Cool Clary, a tiny, quiet, insular community. Despairing and heartsick, the discharged soldier Thomas Mendip seeks to leave the earthly realm by admitting to having committed murder. While the apathetic town elders ignore his demands for punishment, they are all too eager to sentence the innocent Jennet Jourdemayne to death for the crime of witchcraft. Despite the bleak subject matter, hilarity ensues as Thomas attempts to incur death by hanging only to fall in love with Jennet, in whom Thomas finds all the redeeming qualities of humankind.

The plays run from June 7 to 17 on the McMaster campus in the courtyard behind the Rathskellar and in the Faculty Hollow.The Lady's Not for Burning opened June 7 with performances on June 9, 15 and 17 at 7 p.m. Tartuffe opened June 8 and runs June 10, 14, and 16, also at 7 p.m.