Free play, Molière’s “Scapin,” at Memorial Auditorium Sunday
WORTHINGTON — A contemporary adaptation of a 17th century play will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday at Worthington’s Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center — for free.
First written by renowned French playwright Molière in 1671, “Scapin” is described as a raucous comedy about love affairs, revenge, family dynamics, deception, intrigue and greed.
“Comedy is universal,” said Randy Reyes, an acclaimed Twin Cities actor, director and writer who adapted and directed “Scapin” for Ten Thousand Things Theater Company of Minneapolis.
“There are certain things that everybody will laugh at, and there are universal themes in ‘Scapin’ that have allowed it to survive for so long.”
Reyes, named “Best Actor of 2017” by Minneapolis’ City Pages and “Artist of the Year” in 2016 by the Star Tribune, studied at the University of Utah (where he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2015) and at Juilliard.
“I based my adaptation of ‘Scapin’ on other older adaptations and translations of it,” he explained. “I wanted to put more modern humor into it, and the process continued during rehearsals, with the actors adding to the text of the piece.”
Ten Thousand Things, a unique performing arts group whose goal is to deliver high quality, professional theater to audiences that don’t always have the luxury of enjoying that cultural form, is taking its “Scapin” show on the road prior to beginning an Oct. 11-Nov. 4 run in the Twin Cities.
Worthington, Windom (where “Scapin” will be presented in the Windom Community Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday) and Harmony are three of the Greater Minnesota locations selected for performances. In addition, students enrolled in the District 518 Adult Basic Education program will see it at noon Monday.
“It’s really about taking these shows to audiences that don’t necessarily get to see theater,” said Reyes, listing prisons, homeless shelters and community centers as other targets for Ten Thousand Things’ theatrical gifts.
“Scapin,” as Reyes depicts it, is a rollicking portrayal of various power struggles and mistaken identities.
“It’s always the servants who foil the masters by playing games and tricks, and there are lovers trying to be together but finding that is made difficult by life’s circumstances, and the masters need to be foiled in order for the lovers to be together,” said Reyes.
“Don’t let the French title intimidate you; it’s not a pretentious show, but is situational comedy about people trying to fool other people in various situations.”
The stripped-down form of theater Ten Thousand Things portrays is necessary to allow for effective performances in sites lacking the usual theatrical accouterments, like curtains and special lighting.
“There are no fancy lights or sets — there’s no pretense to it — and the actors are on the same level with the audience,” said Reyes.
“It’s about storytelling, and featuring the actors as the main storytellers,” he continued. “That makes this very accessible, and this adaptation of ‘Scapin’ allows it to be contemporary and not at all alienating.”
And speaking of actors, “Scapin” features some of the very best in the state and region.
Sarah Agnew has the title role of Scapin. She was seen last summer in “Enemy of the People” at the Guthrie, is a veteran of other Twin Cities theaters and also has acting credits at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory Theater and the Cincinnati Playhouse, to name only a few venues.
Also featured in “Scapin” are Ricardo Beaird, Elise Langer, Kris Nelson, Kimberly Richardson and Karen Wiese-Thompson.
“These are actors who regularly perform at the Chanhassen, the Guthrie, the Children’s Theatre Company, the History Theater and other Twin Cities theaters,” said Tammy Makram, managing director of Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center.
“This is an amazing opportunity for people to see some of the Twin Cities’ most talented actors perform — for free.”
Reyes echoes those thoughts.
“Sarah is amazing,” said Reyes, praising his lead character. “She can do it all — comedy, drama, language and physical play — she’s really a special actor.
“It’s rare to have this caliber of performers and production in your ‘living room,’ basically,” Reyes added. “And to see it for free — well, I don’t think there’s a better deal out there.
“It will be 85 minutes of pure fun, and then you go home. You really can’t lose.”
The regional performances of “Scapin” are made possible by grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota, the McKnight Foundation, the Trillium Foundation and Target.
“Scapin,” a production of Ten Thousand Things Theater Company of Minneapolis, will be performed at Memorial Auditorium Performing Arts Center, 714 13th St., Worthington, at 2 p.m. Sunday. The presentation is intended for audiences ages 15 and up. It is free and open to the public. Complimentary refreshments will also be served. For more information, contact the MAPAC box office at 376-9101, or visit friendsoftheauditorium.com.