This month, the Greystone Theatre showcases an immersive theatre experience with the restoration comedy The Beaux’ Stratagem. The play is full of charm, action, eloquence and wit, and it runs until Feb. 17.
Produced in 1707 by Irish dramatist George Farquhar, The Beaux’ Stratagem follows two fortune hunters — Francis Archer and Thomas Aimwell — who seek to woo women and find rich wives throughout the English countryside. Although initially selfish, these men do eventually find love, and the mischief caused along the way makes their journey all the more entertaining.
Julia Jamison — director of The Beaux’ Stratagem and assistant professor in the University of Saskatchewan’s drama department — has a love for the playfulness and wit of the restoration-comedy genre. She first introduced The Beaux’ Stratagem as part of an acting class, and the students loved reading it so much that they suggested it be included in the Greystone season.
“This play is a joyful, buoyant play,” Jamison said. “It’s a perfect play for Valentine’s Day, because it’s about people falling in love despite themselves.”
Restoration comedy is a unique type of drama that was popular in London in the latter half of the 17th century characterized by anti-Puritan subject matter. While this dramatic tradition may at first seem dated, The Beaux’ Stratagem was actually adapted for the modern audience, a project that began with Thornton Wilder in 1939 and came to fruition in 2006 with the help Ken Ludwig. For Jamison, the renewal of the play allows it to reach contemporary audiences.
“This particular adaptation gives the women quite a bit of power,” Jamison said. “What Wilder and Ludwig have done to it has made it more accessible. It has the feel of a restoration comedy, but it’s still easy to take in what’s being said. It’s easy to follow the storyline.”
This production is set on a thrust stage, which puts the audience on three sides of the actors — so people can be right in the action. If you have never been to a live theatre performance or are bored by seeing the same format of live theatre again and again, this is a unique take on the traditional style of performance.
Jamison says she believes the play will reach many audiences.
“The costumes are works of art in themselves. There’s sword fighting, courtly dance and contemporary actors learning to carry themselves in an elegant way,” Jamison said.
The Beaux’ Stratagem provides a unique take on classic comedy and drama, while also allowing students to support the U of S drama department and its students.
The entire cast is comprised of students, from second to fourth year, who are currently enrolled in classes in the drama department. A majority of the crew is also comprised of students, who are involved in lighting, sound, live music, set design and all other aspects of the play. For Jamison, this student involvement can breathe life into a 300-year-old play.
“What I love about directing students is the open-hearted curiosity and joy from having these new experiences. It makes coming to rehearsal, frankly, a privilege,” Jamison said.
If you are interested in supporting the arts at the U of S, then buy yourself a ticket to The Beaux’ Stratagem. The witty jokes, the mischievous heroes and villains, and the lively discourse — on marriage, politics and many other subjects, which lend themselves easily to cynic comedy — will provide a unique and enjoyable experience.
To buy tickets or find out more about upcoming productions, visit the Greystone Theatre’s website or call the box office at 306-966-5188. Tickets are $19 at regular price, $16 for seniors and $13 for students.
Photos: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor