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French play begins showing Nov. 15

By Chancellor Mills
On November 15, 2011


The A&M-Commerce University Playhouse will begin showings tonight, Nov. 15, of its latest production by French playwright Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux called "The Game of Love and Chance."

"The University Playhouse sets Marivaux's side-splitting 18th century comedy in 1940s Manhattan for an experience like no other," an e-mail sent out from theatre professor Dr. Carrie Klypchak said. "Young Silvia is to marry a man of her father's choosing.  So, she decides to switch roles and costumes with her maid Lisette in order to get a closer look at the young gentlemen.  Dorant, the husband-to-be, whose father struck the marriage bargain with Silvia's father, decides to use the exact same ploy and swap roles with his chauffeur Arleechino on his first visit to Silvia.  Mayhem ensues when all are entangled in this hilarious web of deception."

With director Valerie Hauss-Smith at the helm, she said that she picked this particular play because of her national background.

"Well I definitely wanted to direct a French play because I'm French," she said. "I've directed for a while now but I've only directed in the States and I've never directed a French play. So I started to read some. I didn't want to do Molière because everybody does Molière. But I was looking for comedy. So I read a couple of [Marivaux's] plays and selected this one."

Once she had decided which play she wanted to do, Hauss-Smith still had some difficulty selecting the best interpretation. She eventually settled on a version that was translated and adapted by a man named Neil Bartlett.

"I think I read it in French first, and then the big question was to find a translation that would work," she said. "I read a bunch of different translations by the one I read by Bartlett really spoke to me."

In the play, senior theatre major Brittney Steddum portrays the lead lady role of Sylvia.

"She's wealthy, well educated, and can have anything she wants," Steddum said. "Because she does not have anyone to answer to, (she can manipulate her father, easy enough) and she lacks responsibility, she has the luxury of fully expressing herself, as well as she has the option of any man she wants. Despite this, she denounces marriage, and hates romance because she was brainwashed to believe her prince will come, and would go to absolute hell and back to be with her."

According to Steddum, it is this sort of independence the she admires about Sylvia.

"So many women are happy to settle for any man of out loneliness, or a need to be ‘loved,'" she said. "We forget how beautiful, powerful and whole we are on our own. We rely on another to make us whole. Silvia isn't looking for anyone complete her. I admire her so much for this. I am so in love with the idea that if someone could step into Silvia's portrait of a man, she would love him out of pure love, and not because she needed anything."

Hauss-Smith said she thinks that people will enjoy the production because it brings something popular from the silver-screen to theatre.

"It's truly a romantic comedy," Hauss-Smith said. "Instead of a date-night movie, it's like that with a play. It's lovely and fun and really hilarious. "

She also said that she thinks there will be more for college students to take away from the play other than just a few laughs.

"Besides that, there are some very truthful and heartfelt moments where, yes, they are falling in love, but there is a little more at stake than that," Hauss-Smith said. "It's not just he lust and the desire, but what is going to happen after that? A lot of it could really speak to young people. It is exactly what college students go through, I think."

"The Game of Love and Chance" opens tonight, Nov. 15, and runs every night at 8 p.m. through Nov. 19. There will also be an afternoon matinee on Nov. 20 at 3 p.m. For tickets or reservations, call the University Playhouse Box Office at (903) 886-5900.

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