In Grenfell’s theatre program we attempt to familiarize acting and technical students with various styles of theatre. This fall a large portion of our student body has been focusing on mounting a production of George Feydeau's farce, “Le Dindon” (The Turkey) that I have adapted and am directing. “Turkeys, Turkeys and More Turkeys,” the title of this adaptation, features the talents of second-, third- and fourth-year students. It’s foolish; it's frisky; it's Feydeau at his finest. It’s a lightning-paced symphony of intrigues, betrayals, slamming doors and mistaken identities.
A turkey is a bird that we eat for Thanksgiving dinner, but it is also a stupid, foolish or inept person. Lust and love can make one very foolish, and those very basic human traits tend to be at the core of French farce.
When a lecherous lout lusts after his friend’s wife, it leads to liaisons at a low-brow brothel (well, the Hotel Ultimus) resulting in cuckolded couples re-coupling, and complete chaos.
The acting students have been rehearsing since September to get the story and the relationships clear, the pacing crisp and the timing just right. It’s a mistake to start out trying to be funny. The key is to never lose sight of the reality of the situation, to justify exaggerated behaviour, to keep a grasp on some semblance of truth in their performances, while raising the stakes to outrageous levels.
Meanwhile, the technical students, with guidance from designers Vickie Marston, Roy Hansen-robitschek and Renate Pohl, have been busy making outrageous costumes, gathering and building props, building and painting a colourful set with indestructible doors that can be slammed over and over again, and creating more than 75 lighting and sound cues.
And as the audiences will hear onstage this week, “Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God!” Will Monsieur Pontagnac succeed in his seduction of Madame Lucienne Vatelin? Will Monsieur Rédillon ever convince Lucienne that he loves her? Will her husband, the cuddly Crépin, ever escape the carnal clutches and killer coffee of Madame Mitzi Soldignac? Will her husband, Hans, ever catch Crépin cuckolding him?
For the answers to all these questions and much, much more, please join us at Grenfell’s Fine Arts Theatre Nov. 21 to 24 and bring tissues to wipe away the tears of laughter. Tickets can be purchased at the door or at www.grenfell.mun.ca/tickets.
Jerry Etienne is an associate professor of theatre at Grenfell Campus