What a farce!

By By Lisa Anderson

By Lisa Anderson

As the theater’s artistic director, Charles Morey has been the director of dozens of shows for Pioneer Theatre Company, and has written a handful of scripts, as well.

Last spring, he was invited to spend six weeks at the MacDowell Artist’s Colony in New Hampshire. Located on 425 acres, it was founded in 1907 and is the oldest artist colony in the country. The Colony’s mission has always been “to nurture the arts by offering creative individuals of the highest talent an inspiring environment in which to produce enduring works of the imagination.”

It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it?

Well, for Morey, it was a chance to write a play-and-a-half, including the translation and adaptation of The Ladies Man from a French farce written by Georges Feydeau in the late 1800s.

“It was one of the most extraordinary times in my creative life,” Morey said.

In the world of theater, writing an adaptation makes the work one’s own. When directing his own work, Morey is pretty ruthless, cutting and re-writing as he goes. But when he’s directing someone else’s work, he insists on being respectful to what the author intends. Directing one’s own work, it would seem, is more effort, but it offers more freedom.

“One of the great joys,” he said, “has been writing The Ladies Man with Max Robinson, John Guerrasio and Michelle Six from the beginning, and now being able to see them doing what he imagined.

John Guerrasio, who plays Bassinet, last worked with Robinson and Morey nearly 20 years ago, before he moved to England, where he has been acting and writing for stage and television. And they were thrilled to be working together again.

Max Robinson, who has acted in more than 100 shows for the Pioneer Theatre Company in the 25-plus years he has spent with it, plays the leading man, Molineaux. Robinson studied acting at the U, and in his second year, he realized he liked it and was good at it.

He said he could express feelings without fear of repercussions and discovered freedom through acting. Robinson feels that there is a spiritual aspect to acting-a means or a method to explore what it is to be human. “Within the process of acting, part of you is standing to the side observing what you’re doing on stage and it broadens the understanding of humanity,” he said.

In preparation for the show, Robinson said, “This show is pure farce, so the homework has been the musicality of it.”

A good comedy or farce is an intricate dance-a choreography of movement and words. It’s all about the flow of rhythms and timing.

Most of the cast has previously worked together, and this helped the comfort-level and made the comedy jive better.

Actors tend to take their roles in comedy very seriously, and it sounds as though comedy is harder to perfect than dramatic dialogue.

Robinson describes the process as “almost Zen-like to find that point of relaxation and awareness, but, at the same time, intense readiness.”

The Ladies Man opens Friday, Jan. 12 and runs through Saturday, Jan. 27. Weekday shows start at 7:30 p.m., Saturday matinees start at 2 p.m. and the curtain opens Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. The Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre is located on the western edge of the U’s campus at 300 S. 1400 East and offers incredible student discounts. Full-price tickets range from $20 to $39. For more information, visit www.pioneertheatre.org or call 581-6961.

Charles Morey’s The Ladies Man is anything but