What makes a classic a Classic?

What makes a classic a Classic?

When SOBT Artistic Director Mark Gorman first approached me about directing “The Playboy of the Western World,” I knew that the first question I would have to answer for myself was, “How can this play, written in 1907 and considered a classic, still be relevant and entertaining to an audience in 2014?”

I knew that there had been rioting following its premiere in Dublin more than a century ago, instigated by Irish Nationalists who deemed it offensive to public morals and to Ireland itself. As someone with a background in political theatre, I found this aspect appealing. However, “political” does not necessarily equal “compelling” or “enjoyable.”

celebrity gossip 300x225 What makes a classic a Classic?The more I read over the text, the more my thoughts were drawn to our modern American celebrity culture. I realized that an audience that keeps up with the Kardashians and witnesses a lovable child star twerk her way to infamy could certainly relate to Christy’s journey from unremarkable peasant boy to village hero who then falls from popular grace. In fact, all of Synge’s characters are identifiable in our current society, save some differences in wardrobe and use of language. The relevance to our audience will derive from this recognition.

The answer to entertainment question was right in the script. Reading — and even more so hearing the scenes read out loud — punctuated just how funny a play it is. Good comedy is timeless. Synge wrote a story with outlandish and complex characters and situations, and — as a gift to directors — many, many opportunities to insert our own physical humor and sight gags. There are jokes involving amorous intentions, excessive use of alcohol, and bodily functions, just to name a few. If the number of times the cast cracks up during rehearsals is a barometer of what the audience can expect, then prepare for a bounty of laughter.

I look forward to seeing you at the pub!
Written by Linda Eisen
Director of the Charleston Premiere of Playboy of the Western World

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playboy rehearsal laughter1 300x158 What makes a classic a Classic?

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