Opening a show is an all consuming endeavor. This is something I can never forget. However, this is taken to an even higher level when you are running a theatre company with a tiny, tiny staff. My intention was to be blogging twice per week and I’ve already missed two entries.

This weekend we are opening Ray Cooney’s door-slamming farce OUT OF ORDER. Likely, if you are reading this I’m going to assume that you are aware of what we have going on at the theatre. This won’t be a platform for directly trying to encourage you to buy tickets. Though I might likely offer you a different insight into our productions.

The decision to change the setting or location of a play is a decision that no director or artistic director should take likely. The decision to do so with our current production came after much deliberation. For me the key elements that should be considered are best outlined in Terry McCabe’s book Mis-Directing the Play: An Argument Against Contemporary Theatre. McCabe sets forth that a director’s job is to clarify plot, character and thought and otherwise to stay out of the way of the playwright’s creation. The major offense a director can make, according to McCabe, is to use directing as a platform for making personal statements at the expense of the text.

Whitney Ice, David Crossley and Maxine Whittaker in Springfield Contemporary Theatre's production of OUT OF ORDER.

Mr. Cooney wrote OUT OF ORDER in the early 90’s as a political farce set against the landscape of the end of Margaret Thatcher’s term in office. Richard Willey, a conservative member of Parliament who is described as Ms. Thatcher’s lapdog, is having an affair with Neil Kinnock’s secretary. At the time Kinnock was the Leader of the Opposition and was known for frequently attacking Thatcher’s stances. While the politics of the play are the backdrop against which the mechanisms of British sex farce are set, in order to truly understand what is at stake in this play and what might drive these characters to such extremes you have to have knowledge of the politics behind the key characters.

As we were discussing producing Cooney’s outrageously hilarious script which is one of the funniest plays I had read in some time, we had to consider whether our audiences would remember the specifics of twenty-year-old English politics…and in the case of some of our younger audiences if they would know these central figures at all. For that reason, we felt we would be serving the best interests of the production and the playwright’s intent with the play by bringing these references into modern day politics. While British farce is inherently British, David Rice, the director of OUT OF ORDER has done a magnificent job of translating this piece into the world of Washington politics. This play will now please our audiences to the level that it originally pleased the Brits two decades ago.

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