The consequences of the lies we tell are unraveled in Lawrence University Theatre Arts department’s production of David Ives’ comedy “The Liar.”
Four performances of “The Liar” will be staged in Stansbury Theater May 12-14 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 14. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
Popular French Renaissance playwright Pierre Corneille wrote this comedy in 1643 in the midst of a more tragic series of plays. Described as “a series of breathtakingly intricate lies,” the story centers around Dorante, a young lawyer who comes to the big city in search of romance. He meets Clarice and immediately falls for her, unaware that she is already secretly engaged to his friend Alcippe. In his efforts to woo her, he invents a tale of his amazing military feats, unleashing a web of falsehood that ensnares all of the characters, sparking mishaps, mistaken identities and lie upon lie.
The production is based on Ives’ “translaptation” from 17th-century French to English of Corneille’s original play. Ives considered “The Liar” “one of the world’s great comedies.”
“I felt as if some lost Shakespeare festival comedy on the order of ‘Twelfth Night’ or ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ had been found,” Ives has said.
As a social satire, Ives liked the way the play’s lies are woven into the fabric of things, revealing how lies can feed love and actually create happiness.
He preserved the rhyming in the play’s original verse, but introduced changes that intersect with current audiences in the same way audiences identified with the original.
“We’ve taken that a step further and are using haute couture and installation art to look at ways that history is reflected in today’s visual aesthetics,” said director Kathy Privatt, James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theatre arts. “There will be some ‘visual lies’ to go with the lies in the story, such as a wig that isn’t made of hair.”
Somewhat serendipitously, the timing of the production, according to Privatt, turned out perfectly.
“After choosing the play, I opened the local newspaper to a story about an organization that gives an award for best lie of the year,” said Privatt. “Then the political debate season rolled around and the various fact-checking websites lit up. Suddenly, a piece that lets us examine ways we lie to each other and ourselves seems very appropriate.”
Freshman Marco Mazzetta from Wheeling, Ill. plays Dorante, while Maddie Scanlan, a junior from St. Paul, Minn., portrays Clarice. Senior Matt Johnson from Elmhurst, Ill., plays Geronte, Dorante’s father and Zoey Lin, a junior from Nanjing, China, portrays Cliton, Dorante’s servant.
Junior Isabel Hemley from Grafton and Madison junior Tony Harth portray Clarice’s friend Lucrece and her fiancé Alcippe, respectively. Junior Lauren Abdulm from New York City, plays Isabelle and Sabine, maids to Clarice and Lucrece. Sophomore Rory Coleman from St. Paul, Minn., plays Philiste, Alcippe’s best friend.
About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.