Drama Department Playfully Ponders “The Way of the World”
November 5, 2003 --
In its second production of the 2003-2004 season,
the U.Va Drama Department delights
audiences with William Congreve’s Restoration classic The Way of the World.
This comedic masterpiece brings back guest director Sabin Epstein, (The Miser),
for a hilarious examination of love, marriage, and betrayal. Audiences are invited
to enjoy the show’s battling of wits November 13-15 and 19-22 at 8 p.m.
in the Culbreth Theatre.
in 1700, The Way of the World concluded Congreve’s
renowned career as a playwright. Although it is remembered as his most intellectually
comedy, the play originally sparked controversy for violating sexual taboos.
The story centers on two lovers—Mirabell (Chris Cannon) and Millamant
(Molly Beilhart)—whose attitudes directly counter traditional views of
marriage. Although they espouse one another’s equality, the pair must
contend with hierarchal social practices. When their romance threatens Millamant’s
inheritance rights, the lovers hatch a clever plot to disguise characters’ long-established,
public masks… and, consequently, throw their rigid social order into
chaos. A talented cast of actors—including Heather Mayes, Ebenezer Quaye,
Katie Liddicoat, and Beth Gervain— will portray this comedy of intricate
language and social commentary.
The Way of the World first arrived on the London stage, many
upper-class patrons scorned its presentation of aristocratic marriage. Although
Congreve was only thirty at the time, the response helped dissuade him from
composing other theatrical works. Until this experience, Congreve produced
a steady succession
of plays within a brief time frame. He experienced tremendous success with
his popular, first play, The Old Bachelor, (1693), which was followed that
same year by The Double-Dealer. Additionally, Congreve wrote
Love for Love (1697), and his only tragedy, The Mourning
However, it is The Way of the World for which he is most venerated today.
Epstein, a guest artist currently serving on the acting
faculty for the University of Southern California, directs
in period styles, Epstein’s credits include the U.Va Drama Department’s
2001 production of The Miser, and A Noise Within at California’s Classical
Theatre. He previously headed the conservatory training program at the American
Conservatory Theatre, is an associate artist at the Georgia Shakespeare Festival,
and has served as a guest director for numerous theatre companies, such as
the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare in Santa Fe, the Utah and Oregon
Festivals, San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, and the National Institute
of Dramatic Art in Syndey, Australia.
Unlike other Restoration comedies, which tend to be broader and of a lighter
spirit, Epstein described The Way of the World as being multi-layered.
Although this makes the play more challenging, Epstein explained that its
attract him to the production in the first place. “We all like to
be dared,” Epstein
said. “Doing this play is like climbing Mount Everest: if we’re
going to do it, let’s go all the way. Let’s not be safe, and
see what happens.”
for The Way of the World are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors
and $7 for students; full-time U.Va students can use their
ART$ Dollars to
Season tickets are also available. For more information, call the Drama
Department Box Office at 434-924-3376. The box office is open from 1
to 6 p.m.
James Scales, (434) 982-5279