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Drury University Theatre Offers a Double Bill of "Medieval Farces"

(courtesy Wikipedia)

The students of Drury University Professor of Theatre Dr. Mick Sokol are preparing two Medieval farces for the fourth production of the 2018-19 season: “Pierre Pathelin” and “The Cave of Salamanca.” The director of the latter play, Drury Theatre student Stephanie Madison, and one of her actors, Drew Moore, were joined by one of the actors in “Salamanca,” Jacob Maher, to talk about the double bill.

“Cave of Salamanca” by Miguel de Cervantes (of “Don Quixote” fame) was written in 1615, says director Stephanie Madison. “Pierre Pathelin” is a farce of anonymous authorship, originally written in French.  Dr. Sokol adapted the work for modern audiences, says actor Jacob Maher.  “Salamanca,” as Madison describes it, is a classic sex farce. “It’s about a woman and her maid—the husband has left home, and they (the women) are bringing their lovers over to the house.  The husband’s carriage breaks down, and he comes back early.” The women frantically attempt to lie to the husband about what’s going on under his roof—and who these two men are. “Le Farce de Pierre Pathelin,” says Maher, “is about a down-on-his-luck lawyer whose wife is nagging him to get her a new dress.  From there he goes to swindle his neighbor, who is the draper in town. And from that spirals out a whole legal case of everybody cheating each other out of money.”

Drew Moore identifies him as “playing one of the miscreants in ‘Salamanca’—one of the lovers.”  Stephanie Madison expands on Moore’s description: “He’s our barber—and he’s playing the ukulele in my show!”

There are about a dozen actors, and Stephanie Madison says “all of the actors have been actively involved with building the set, hanging lights—everything, building costumes. We’ve got a whole bunch of great designers, and we’ve all been working really hard on it.” “The sound, lighting, set—everything has been completely designed by students,” adds Jacob Maher.

While Dr. Sokol has updated and adapted the dialogue for “Pierre Pathelin,” Madison says she has “kept the language (in “Cave of Salamanca”) as traditional as I possibly could. I really wanted to bring history into the show—and that’s another reason why we’re doing the Medieval Festival outside on Saturday.”

She’s talking about the “Medieval Players Festival” from noon to 4:00pm on Saturday April 13th at Drury’s Kellogg Green Space.  The cast will perform the “Medieval Farces” double bill outdoors that day (weather permitting—if they have to move it inside, it will be in the Drury ballroom) in order to present the works as they would originally have been performed, at a time when no functioning theaters existed in the western world. “They would’ve been out in the open; they would perform in bars; they had pageant wagons that they brought everything with them on to perform outside. So we really wanted to bring that historical aspect to the community,” says Stephanie Madison. In addition to the production, the festival will include local food trucks, arts and crafts from around 20 vendors… and the Drury Ukelele Club will act as strolling minstrels.  No, not “period-instrument” ukuleles, although Drew Moore considers them something like the great-grandchildren of the medieval/Renaissance lute which would be period-correct!

Admission to the Medieval Players Festival on the 13th is free and open to the public; that includes the outdoor performance of the double bill of Medieval Farces. Attendees are invited to wear medieval or renaissance costumes.  The indoor performances will take place Wednesday April 10 through Friday the 12th all at 7:30pm in Drury’s “black-box” theater, the Sunderland Studio Theatre inside O’Bannon Hall.  Tickets for the indoor performances range from $3 to $14 and are available from the Drury box office, 873-7255, Monday-Friday 1-5pm and an hour before curtain on show days.  Or, order tickets online at