campus news & events

Colby-Sawyer College Presents 'The Servant of Two Masters,' A Classic Italian Renaissance Comedy

by Amber Cronin '11

NEW LONDON, N.H – The Colby-Sawyer College Fine and Performing Arts will present its spring theatre production “The Servant of Two Masters,” a play based on the 300-year-old classic play of the Italian Commedia dell'arte (comedy of art) theater. The original play, created by Carlo Goldoni and adapted by Dorothy Louise, has a modern, feminine twist.

“The Servant of Two Masters” will be performed Thursday, April 3, through Saturday, April 5, at 8 p.m. in the Sawyer Center Theater. Seating is limited, and tickets for the show must be reserved in advance through the Colby-Sawyer Box Office at 603-526-3670. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and children.

In the play, Florindo is forced to flee Turin after killing Frederigo Rasponi, the brother of his lover Beatrice, and he winds up in Venice. Beatrice also flees Turin, disguised as her brother Frederigo. In searching for Florindo, Beatrice heads to Venice, along with her servant, Truffaldino, who is then also hired to be a servant for Florinda. The two masters are unaware of the servant's dual roles, and the play revolves around Truffaldino's hilarious struggle to serve two masters at once.

The Commedia dell'arte style of acting began with acting troupes that toured Italy during the 16th through 18th centuries. The troupes would improvise the plot lines based around themes associated with stock characters such as star-crossed lovers and witty, streetwise and conniving servants. The actors often took the opportunity to get well acquainted with local residents and would then poke fun at the locals throughout their plays.

The student actors in this spring production will seek to capture the mannerisms of these travelling actors and the spirit of the Commedia dell'arte, according to Professor of Fine and Performing Arts Jerry Bliss. "We will also bring it to the present and make fun of ourselves and our community,” he added.

Bliss chose to produce “The Servant of Two Masters” due to an interest in the Commedia dell'arte style of theater. “Slapstick physical comedy with mistaken identities, men and women reversing their sexual roles, and comedy bordering on the ridiculous sounds like a lot of fun to me,” he said. “It's something that we haven't done here before so I felt the time was right, and it has a fairly large cast to give more students here an opportunity to act.”

The play is directed by Bliss, with assistance from Rob Wardwell '08. Set and lighting is by Michael Lovell, with costume design by Deborah Barton. The student actors include Jess McCabe '09 as Smeraldina, Noah Richard '09 as Florindo (master #1), Megan Ruggiero '09 as Beatrice (master #2), JC McCarthy '11 as Silvio; Rob Wardwell '08 as Pantalone and Suzanna Brown '11 as Clarice.

Additionally, Eliot Foerster '09 will perform the role of Lombardi, with Dylan Zarett '09 as Brighella, Andrew Baker '08 as Truffaldino, the servant, Jesse Lundberg '08 as Porter, Kayleigh Flynn '11 as Pandora and Angela Doyle '10 as Nora. Andrew Francis '10 is the stage manager and understudy for the play.

Photos by Anthony Marrone.

Colby-Sawyer, founded in 1837, is a comprehensive liberal arts college located in the scenic Lake Sunapee Region of central New Hampshire. Our students learn in small classes through a select array of programs that integrate the liberal arts and sciences with pre-professional experience.

Colby-Sawyer College, 541 Main Street, New London, N.H. 03257 (603) 526-3000.