Spiceplays!

 

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CLASSICS


ALCESTIS (Euripides)
2 W 3 M
Minimal set
25 minutes

Alcestis is going to die unless someone can be found to take her place. Her husband, not surprisingly, declines. During the mourning period Hercules arrives for a visit. As a guest, he mustn’t be told about the tragedy, but he finds out anyway, and goes to Hades to battle with death and bring Alcestis back.

COMMENTS: Known as the “tragedy with a happy ending”, and it is, although we are left with some powerful afterthoughts. One of the most accessible of Greek tragedies, with a rare comic slant on its two leading male characters. No problems with a chorus here – it’s one person, a servant. An excellent introduction to Greek tragedy.


AS YOU LIKE IT (Shakespeare)
2 W, 5 M
Minimal set
40 Minutes

COMMENTS: This version was first staged in a forest – an approach we highly recommend, if you ever have the opportunity. The dialogue is all Shakespeare’s, so there is no royalty on this play, but please give us credit for the acting version in the program. Tunes and chords for the songs are available.


HAMLET ACT VI
1 W, 6 M, extras
Minimal set
Twenty minutes

Since Hamlet and Laertes do not exchange rapiers, Hamlet does not die, so he’s quite surprised when Fortinbras arrives to claim the throne that Hamlet assumes is his. Both try to line up supporters, play dirty tricks on each other, and finally engage in combat urged on by the ghosts of their fathers – all in blank verse.

COMMENTS: These are but wild and whirling words, my lord! For the theater group ready to smile for a moment at the classics.


THE KNIGHTS (Aristophanes)
5 W or M
Minimal set
One act, fifty minutes

The Playwright and four friends are in a bind: no one will make a mask representing the dictator Creon, who is to be satirized in the playwright’s new play. To decide how serious the situation is, the five read the play aloud. In it a pair of opportunists convince a hot dog seller to take on the dictator for the affections of the wealthy, complacent Populace. The competition involves prophecies, invective, and dirty tricks, but our hero is good at all of them, and routs the dictator. The Playwright ultimately decides to play the role, and the show will go on.

COMMENTS: The frame story is based on an allegedly true incident in Aristophanes’ career, and the play-within-the-play is a close paraphrase of his wild original, with only an occasional edit. Aristophanes distrusted anyone who has power and anyone who might ever get it, and his attitude shines through. This version is extremely easy to stage, since most of it is a reading. For a group that would enjoy starting a good political discussion! See sample dialogue.


LYSISTRATA (Lizzie’s Sisters/The Women Say No) (Aristophanes)
4 W, 3 M
Flexible, nonrepresentational setting
Two acts

War is raging, and Lizzie has a plan to end it: withhold sex until there’s peace. At first the men don’t believe the women are capable of any such thing; then they become belligerent, then desperate. The women fight with both words and actions, and ultimately triumph for the good of all.

COMMENTS: This adaptation solves the notorious problems of the famous original: crude language, choral staging, and a plot that runs out about halfway through the play. Here the action flows smoothly, the play is clean enough to be presented for almost any audience, and it still retains the tone – and the point – of the original. Particularly recommended for groups that have wanted to do the play but have shied away from blatantly sexual language.


A MODERN EVENING OF CLASSIC DRAMA
Alcestis
Nathan the Wise
The Imaginary Betrayal
2 W, 3 M or more (total roles 6 W, 9 M)
Minimal set
Three acts

COMMENTS: See the individual plays for descriptions. Want to start your own repertory company? Stage all three of these significant and varied classic plays. A treat for actors and audiences and for any company looking for an accessible program of the classics.


NATHAN THE WISE (Lessing)
2 W, 3 M
Minimal set
Forty minutes

A triangle both religious and emotional, set in Jerusalem in the days of the Crusades, finds the daughter of a wise Jew, Nathan, being sought after by a young Crusader, while Nathan is called before the Muslim ruler Saladin. Nathan has lessons to teach everyone, including us.

COMMENTS: An adaptation of a play that was for many generations the most produced in Europe. This classic tale of tolerance is particularly famous for the unforgettable Parable of the Rings, told by Nathan to Saladin… which alone would be worth the price of admission.


THE IMAGINARY BETRAYAL (Moliere)
2 W, 3 M
Minimal setting
Twenty minutes

A father insists that his daughter marry someone she doesn’t love… and she is equally determined to marry another. A picture in a locket, accidentally dropped, leads to confusion and suspicion on everyone’s part. Love triumphs, eventually and barely.

COLMMENTS: Classic farce! A straightforward version of Moliere’s The Imaginary Cuckold, easy to play.


THE REHEARSAL (George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham and others)
(AVAILABLE 2005)
4 W or M and a flexible acting company
Simple staging
Two acts

A theater company, down on its luck, comes up with a scheme to raise money: it will allow wealthy patrons to design their own plays, and they’ll be so grateful that they’ll dig deep. The scenes that result, needless to say, are quite off the wall… but enthusiastically presented…

COMMENTS: This Restoration play was the Forbidden Broadway of its time, and a huge success for generations. The fun for a director lies in matching the period scenes to modern styles of theater production. This adaptation includes a new prologue, opening and closing, and basic situation, and the text is thoroughly edited. An excellent opportunity for a company looking for an unfamiliar classic comedy with popular appeal. See sample dialogue.


SHAKESPEARE’S ONE-ACT PLAYS
Six or more W or M
Flexible staging
Fifty minutes

At last, something new from Shakespeare! A director’s feast: an assemblage of pieces from The Taming of the Shrew, Love’s Labours Lost, Hamlet, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

COMMENTS: The dialogue is all Shakespeare’s, so there is no royalty on this play, but please give us credit for the acting version in the program.


TWELFTH NIGHT (Shakespeare)
See details under "Young Audiences"