Emory Report
February 13, 2006
Volume 58, Number 19


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February 13, 2006
TE Stoops to Conquer Goldsmith farce, Feb. 16––26 in MGM Theater

BY Hunter Hangery

Theater Emory will present Oliver Goldsmith’s 18th century romp, She Stoops to Conquer: Or, The Mistakes of a Night, Feb. 16–26 in the Dobbs Center’s Mary Gray Munroe Theater.

In Goldsmith’s comedy of manners, heroine Kate Hardcastle disguises herself as a bar maid in search of lasting love, while her mother, Mrs. Hardcastle, likewise searches for missing jewels, big-city status and eternal youth. Directed by Michael Evenden, associate professor of theater studies and resident dramaturg, the play is marked by dysfunctional families, clever hoaxes and society blunders—all set in rural America.

The decision to reset the production in post-colonial Pennsylvania was easy for Evenden. There is a “pursuit of happiness” within the original English play that hints to the struggles of the early colonists, Evenden said, adding, “If there was a place where America was going to get it right,” it was Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. Audiences might be “drawn to the promise of what this country was supposed to be, and measure where we are now,” he said.

Born the son of an Irish clergyman, Goldsmith’s colorful young adulthood consisted of moving from one career and scholarly course to another (with detours along the way into gambling, debt and excessive drinking). He traveled, studying in Dublin, Edinburgh and Lieden while making his living through odd jobs, writing assignments, charm and a talent for playing the flute.

Goldsmith settled in London to work as an apothecary’s assistant and to write poetry, novels, translations and plays. She Stoops was one of his bigger successes, garnering him a measure of literary respect. Goldsmith was known for his absurdity and inappropriate behavior and remarks; his mission as a playwright was to break from the sterile comedic style of his day.

The cast of Emory’s production includes professional actors Marshall Marden, Allen O’Reilly, Mary Lynn Owen and Gene Ruyle, working alongside a host of Emory students.

As lost as students are when they graduate from college into a new world, the play says, ‘Nature is on your side. It’s not that hard to be happy, to enjoy life,’” Evenden said. “There is a good reason for hope. Happiness is available.”

Set design is by Leslie Taylor, associate professor and chair of theater studies; costume design is by Theater Emory Costume Shop Manager Marianne Martin; lighting and sound design is by Lecturer Judy Zanotti; and musical direction is by Kendall Simpson.

Theater Emory’s 2005–06 “March Through History” will continue in April with Thornton Wilder’s Skin of Our Teeth (April 14–23), featuring Marden, Chris Kayser, Bryan Mercer, Joan Pringle and students. This Pulitzer-Prize winning satire follows the archetypal Antrobus family as they survive the Ice Age, the Great Flood and World War III, and is itself a march through the history of man’s triumph.

The season concludes with performances by New York theater ensemble Universes: Live from the Edge (free, McDonough Field, April 17, 7 p.m.) and Eyewitness Blues (ticketed, Emerson Concert hall, April 19, 7 p.m.)

Performances of She Stoops will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16–18 and 23–25 and at 2 p.m. on Feb. 19, 25 and 26. Tickets are $15; $12 for Emory faculty, staff and discount category members; and $6 for Emory students. The Feb. 17 performance is pay-what-you-can; tickets are sold only at the door based on availability. For more information, call 404-727-5050 or visit www.arts.emory.edu.