under the gaslight

by Augustin Daly

For more information about any aspect of this production, please feel free to contact the director: Richard Wakefield Kotulski.

About This Project

This production of Augustin Daly's Under The Gaslight is the first installment of the Clasdestine Comedy Contest.

Most playwrights writing today are being discouraged from writing shows with roles for more than seven actors, because of budgetary constraints. This is a reality of the theatre world today.

The Clandestine Comedy Contest is an attempt to continue to generate large cast comedies, of the kind produced in previous incarnations of the theatre, and to give those plays an opportunity to be heard.

The way that we produce these plays is somewhat different than the traditional production process. After the play is chosen a cast is assembled, but only the director knows who the complete cast for the show is. The actors memorize their lines and meet with the director three times. Over the course of the rehearsal process the actors never meet one another.

The technical elements of the proudction are kept to a minimum.

On the night of the show the actors show up to the theatre dressed in plain clothes and behave just as if they were members of the audience.

The play begins and as each character's entrance is reached that actor stands up from the audience and makes their way to the stage to join the performance.

The contest and performance serve not only as an opportunity for playwrights to write in a different style and promote their work, but also as a way for the Philadelphia Dramatists Center to raise funds to support it's goal of assisting playwrights in their work.

For more about the Clandestine Comedy Contest please check back to this website in the very near future.

Under The Gaslight: A Synopsis

Heroine Laura suffers spectacularly from first scene to last, as her romance with her soldier sweetheart is destroyed by malicious gossip. The villain of the piece is Bykes, who for mercenary reasons claims that Laura, an heiress, is actually his own daughter. In concert with his partner-in-crime Mrs. Bykes, the double-dyed heavy makes life miserable for everyone concerned, but by the time the final curtain rolls down, everything is set aright. Under the Gaslight is famous as the play that introduced the cliched "thrill" device of having the villain tie someone to the railroad tracks -- only in this case, it was the hero who was lashed to the tracks, and the heroine who ultimately saved him.

Character Breakdown

The major characters are as follows:

  • Ray Trafford, 20's, a rich young man engaged to Laura Courtland
  • Laura Courtland, 20's, a strong and self-possessed young woman of society
  • Pearl Courtland, 20's, Laura's cousin, in love with Ray Trafford
  • Snorkey, 40's, a civil war veteran and messenger, the hero. Missing an arm
  • Byke, 50's, a sinister and evil villain with no conscience
  • Judas, 50's, Byke's sinister and evil wife who also has no conscience

The minor characters are as follows:

  • Peachblossom, 20's, a young servant girl formerly held captive by Byke and Judas
  • Justice Bowling, 70's, a judge
  • Splinter, 40's, an unscrupulous attorney
  • Rafferdi, 30's, An Irish organ grinder, with a monkey
  • Policeman Smithers, 30's, an officer of the court
  • Bermudas, Teens, a street vendor, obsessed with boxing
  • Peanuts, Teens, a street vendor
  • Signalman, 50's, a kind old man with several daughters
  • Mrs. Van Damm, 50's, a fashionable lady of society
  • Miss Earlie, 20's, a fashionable lady of society
  • Edward Demilt, 20's, a fashionable young man of society
  • Windel, Teens, a fashionable young man of society
  • Martin, 60's, a servant