• 2012-2013 Season,  Servant of Two Masters

    Meeting the Characters: The Servants

    by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg In writing The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni used several classic commedia dell’arte characters to tell his hilarious story.  Many of these characters, often described as “stock characters,” are still used in theatre and film today.  Let’s see who you recognize. First up there are the servants, or the Zanni.  With names like Truffaldino, Arlecchino, Smeraldina and Pulcinella, the servants are usually defined as astute tricksters.  The bottom of the pecking order, zanni come from the countryside (most often the city of Bergamo) and represented the poor farm and immigrant workers of Italy. The zanni are often mischevious and are ruled by their survival instincts…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  Servant of Two Masters

    Quick Facts: Servant of Two Masters

    by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg Mistaken identity. Broken engagements. Lovers reunited. Mass chaos. And in the middle of it all, one very hungry servant. If you’ve never heard of Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters (Il servitore di due padroni), then you are in for a treat.  So let’s give you a little insider’s scoop. Servant is written in the style of commedia dell’arte, a hilarious Italian Renaissance theatrical genre. Commedia is famous for several distinct features: Improvisation: the actors had an outline of the scenes, and the overall story line, but would improvise the lines. Stock Characters: every play used a variation of the same character type – the…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  Gone Missing/Cleverest Thief

    Ready, Set, Devise!

    by Ariel Mitchell, dramaturg How do you start rehearsing on a play without a script? Selections from Gone Missing and The Cleverest Thief opens this February in the Margetts theatre at BYU and although we’ve started rehearsals, we don’t yet have a script. Instead we are creating a story through a process called devising. Gone Missing is a devised piece created by The Civilians, a New York based theatre troupe. Inspired by the attacks on 9/11, they wanted to create a story about loss and losing things. They went around their city (Manhattan) and asked whomever they could find, “What is an object you have lost?” They collected the stories,…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Why Afghanistan?

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright Believe it or not, when I started writing A Second Birth I didn’t think twice about setting it in Afghanistan. It wasn’t until I brought the script into my first workshop in Playwriting 1 and I saw the faces go slack in astonishment that I think it finally hit me. After we let out, my professor pulled me aside and said, “What on earth possessed you to undertake this story?” I shrugged. “You have some guts, Ariel” he said. Forty-eight drafts and two years later, the script has grown and changed but I still get the same question, “Why Afghanistan?” In October of 2010, I had…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    Of Football, Kites and Goats: Sports in Afghanistan

    by Katrina Forsythe, dramaturg Nasim and Yasir in A Second Birth play soccer with their friends—though they follow the European tradition of calling it football. While the Afghani people love their football (the national team was founded in 1922—just three years after they became an independent nation), there are other sports that are, perhaps, less familiar to an American audience. Kite Flying Thanks to the book The Kite Runner, we know that Afghani children like to fly kites. But this is not Mary Poppins’ kite flying. The traditional kite in Afghanistan is huge—four to six feet wide—and the string is enhanced with razors and broken glass. The point of the…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    Henna: An Afghani Bride Tradition

    by Katrina Forsythe, dramaturg In Afghanistan, when a girl gets married, her hands and feet are painted with henna. It symbolizes her transition from single girl to married woman, with all that implies. The process takes hours, and the effects last for weeks. This is an easy way to identify a recently married bride. The henna is made from ground up plant fibers soaked in water. The paste is applied like frosting on a cake through a hole the size of a needle’s eye. It goes on a dark brown, almost black, but after it dries—it’s best if you don’t touch anything for a few hours—the dark part flakes off…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Creating a World

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright I’m not a playwright who really pictures things. If you asked me about any of my characters, I would be able to tell you all about what they think, who they are, and how they sound, but ask me what their hair color is and I stare at you like you have three heads. I am one of those people who will read a book and picture the characters as faceless blobs until the movie comes out to tell me what they look like. It’s terrible, I know. Especially when it came to casting. I’m just glad I didn’t have to make the final decision. I…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Tech Week

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright Tech week. Each night it becomes more real. Every layer we add to the production (set, costumes, lights, music) helps me to see the world more clearly. I came into production photos last Wednesday and saw the costumes for the first time. The whole cast was in Afghani clothing. I was surprised. I don’t know why. I mean, it’s not like they were going to perform the play in street clothes! And I did set the piece in Afghanistan. I didn’t recognize any of the actors, but all it took was close to solidify them into the characters they had already become: Nasima, Yasir, Laila, Azadeh,…

  • 2012-2013 Season,  A Second Birth

    A Playwright’s Perspective: Lessons Learned

    by Ariel Mitchell, playwright When I sit down to write a play, it is usually to work out problems I am struggling with. I like to create characters to voice different sides of an issue to help me approach a dilemma in a logical way, and to solidify my opinions on it. So, my characters usually reflect parts of myself. Through this process, I begin to see the world more clearly, but I also discover many more questions. I have lived with A Second Birth and its characters for a long time and they have helped me discover many things about myself and the world. First, it has given me…