THE BROTHERS MENAECHMUS

by Titus Maccius Plautus

brought to the stage by the Furman University Theater
and the Classics faculty and students
of Furman University

January 31-February 3, 6-10, 1996






About the Translation

In the Fall of 1995, Dr. Rich Prior of the Furman Classics faculty struck a deal with Dr. Court Gilmour of the Furman Theater -- a new translation of a Roman comedy for the Theater to perform in its regular season. The Menaechmi was chosen and Dr. Prior offered roles to a few of his students to translate (specific credits below). Once the translations were complete, they were edited by Dr. Prior and again by Mr. John Scott Gray. Auditions were held and rehearsals began. After one or two 'read throughs', Drs. Prior and Gilmour collaborated to iron out awkward lines and scenes and embellish Plautus's work here and there and make the play more accessible to a modern audience. Therefore, the script which follows should be seen more as a working script than as a word for word translation of the original. Nevertheless, apart from the wholesale reworking of the prologue, no great violence has been done.

The translators and their roles are:
Erin Culbertson: Messenio
Dr. Courtlandt Gilmour: Prologue
Dr. Anne Leen: Ancilla
Cheryl Mason: Erotium
Dr. Rich Prior: Peniculus, Menaechmus I, Cylindra, Matrona, Senex, Medicus
Antoine Stevens: Menaechmus II

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Director's Note: Stock Characters


Very early in the development of drama, playwrights seem to have recognized that their characters bore a responsibility beyond having a personality, a purpose, and a point of view: they had, in fact, a function. While with major characters it might not be instantly seen that they are tools of their creators, and that lurking beneath the majesty of fine speech and noble action is a protagonist, while that smiling, sycophantic fellow is really an antagonist, with lesser characters the function is more evident.

Antagonists need henchpersons, just as protagonists need trusted allies, lieutenants, or servants. Actually the antagonizing might better be done by the villain alone, but he or she needs to have someone with whom to plot in order that the audience can know what's afoot. It's either a conspirator-character or an endless quantity of soliloquies. In the early stages, when the number of actors who could be on stage at one time was severely limited, the function of commentator, explicator, and questioner was carried out by the successful device of a chorus.

Later developments in drama have added to the list of functionaries. There were from the beginning messengers, for there is always a need for someone who can announce a death or the serving of the evening meal. Once playwrights began to depart from the unities of time, place, and action, the emergence of subplots demanded greater variety among supporting players.

Eventually, with a big boost from the invention of comedy, there emerged here and there a character of special appeal. Perhaps an individual actor was initially responsible for popularizing the character, but playwrights and managers were not slow to recognize the appeal. Soon, a saucy servant here, a braggadocio there, and suddenly there were stock characters everywhere.

Theater has gone on to create an array of stock characters, whose development can be traced from Greek and Roman comedy to some of the major comedic artists of modern times. The commedia offers the largest and clearest example, since the miserly and lecherous Pantalone, the trickster servant Harlequin, the verbose but vacant Dottore are personae who appear and reappear in one form or another throughout later theater. Moliere's raisonneur is a stock character. So is the quintessential soubrette, Dorine, who is more clever than her master and saucily outwits him throughout Tartuffe.

Even actors who do not play easily recognizable stock characters, such as the hissable top-hatted, twirly-mustachioed villain of meller-dramer, may in a lifetime of playing highy individualized characters discover that they are fulfilling a function. Recognizable types include the "lead," "the heavy," "the juvenile," "the ingenue," and our personal favorite, "the utility."

--C. Gilmour

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Our Author: The Flatfoot Clown

In the year 254 BCE in a tiny backwater town of north-central Italy named Sarsina was born a certain Titus. That was his name. Just plain Titus. As a young man, Titus was dissatisfied with his rural lot, so he decided to seek his fortune in the big city. When Titus arrived in Rome he found work first as a stage hand, then as an actor. At this point the Roman stage was occupied by a native Italian dramatic form called the fabula Atellana, a sort of variety show featuring singers, dancers, clowns, magicians, and skits with a generous amount of slapstick. Our boy Titus found his niche as a clown (maccus in Latin). He also acquired a nickname 'Flatfoot' (Plautus). When he became a citizen and had to pick a full and proper legal name by Roman custom, he stitched these together to become Titus Maccius Plautus, or Titus the Clown Flatfoot.

Eventually Titus saved some cash, left the stage, and tried his hand at commerce. The venture failed miserably. Driven to desperation, he worked as a common laborer at a flour mill while studying Greek on the side. Greece had only recently been swept into the Roman world, and with Greece came all kinds of Greek goodies, including new dramatic forms. The Greek "New Comedy" was different. A single continuous story, all with the same stage set -- 2 or 3 houses on a street. The Greek plays were funny enough, but the jokes were about Greek manners and ways. Titus thought Romans would enjoy them too, but only if they were adapted to a Roman context. The only catch was that the Romans were real fuddyduddies. Fine if the plays made fun of Greeks, but no one should poke fun at Romans. So, starting when he was about 40 years old, Titus found a way to reconcile it all. In a brilliant Victor/Victoria-esque manoeuvre, he replaced the Greeks in the plays with Romans, but dressed them up as Greeks, put them in Greek cities, and gave them Greek names. The veneer was thick enough to satisfy the curmudgeons, but thin eough to let the essential Romanness shine through. He added some innovations of his own as well, such as audience involvement and saucy, clever slaves who always come up smelling like roses.

We know that Plautus wrote over a hundred plays before he died in 184 BCE. Unfortunately only 20 survive intact, and these represent the oldest complete works of Roman literature. This performance is of a new translation of his Menaechmi done by Classics faculty and students here at Furman. Very little tinkering was necessary to make the play work on the modern stage, so, language difference aside, what you see tonight is what Romans enjoyed 2200 years ago. Funny how in this fast-paced, ever changing age, something so old can seem so new. Now that's staying power.!

--R.Prior

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The Cast

PROLOGA, speaker of the prologue ......Kasey Allee
PENICULUS, a parasite .........................Evans Butterworth
MENAECHMUS I, a twin .....................Matt Baughman
EROTIUM, a courtesan ..........................Courtney Page
CYLINDRA, a cook ...............................Katherine Roberts
MENAECHMUS II, a twin ...................Matt Hobbs
MESSENIO, his slave ...........................Stuart Hammond
MATRONA, wife to Menaechmus I .....Julia Wylie
ANCILLA, slave to Erotium .................Hope Henderson
SENEX, Matrona's father ......................J C Hillis
MEDICUS, a physician .........................Rich Prior
RUFFIANA, a slave ..............................Holly Routh
DECIA, another slave ............................Lauren Smith
THALIA, yet another slave ....................Meggin Stailey
DULCIA, still one more slave ...............Christie Whitener

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Production Staff

Directed by Courlandt Gilmour
Scenic Design by Rhett Bryson
Costume Design by Margaret Rose Caterisano
Lighting Design by Kasey Allee
Masks by Doug Berky

Stage Manager: Kate Chambless
Assistant Stage Manager: J.C. Hillis
Scene Shop Assistants: Morgan Fore, Kim Julian, Baxter Rogers
Master Carpenter: Kim Julian
Scenery Construction: Kasey Allee, Andrea Bobotis, Parker Barnes, Ben barnhill, Arch Bell, Bradley Brown, Alan Bryson, Kerry Cronin, Kevin Garrison, Allison Gunney, Doug Irving, Jennifer Lentini, Jason Long, Chad Patrick, John Rife, Holly Routh, Scott Saunders, Kinsey Smith, Trevor Still, Haynes Thomas, Doug Wallace
Costume Shop Assistants: Kasey Allee, Siobhan Carroll
Costume Construction: Carrie Ackerman, Stephanie Akins, Amy Hutchison, Amy Wainscott
Master Electrician: Kasey Allee
Lighting: Mindy Benton, Amy Clapprood, Chad Lennox, Ben Martich, Josh Myers, Eric Sartain, Heather Taylor; Baxter Rogers, board operator
Sound: Mary Wallace
Properties: Kim Julian, Kate Augustine, Bethany Brouse, Jonathan Kelly, Brett Loftis, John Lund
Makeup: Courtney Murray, Courtney Garner, Frances Price, Stacey Rose
Wardrobe: Siobhan Carroll, Lora Deakins, Kerrie Seltenheim
Publicity: Mark Bledsoe
Box Office: Tim Hill
House Managers: Catherine Claire, Anne Klein, Laura Rigdon
Front-of-House Staff: Christine Bourne, Julie Daul, Leslie Edwards, Antoinette Poodt, Kevin Powell, Susannah Rose, Autumn Veazey, Nicole Yosmali

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