Fairmont State University's fourth Masquers theatre group production of the 2009-2010 academic year, Christopher Marlowe's "Edward II," takes the Wallman Hall stage this week.
"Edward II" will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 25. Performances are planned for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday April 29, 30 and May 1. To order tickets, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets or call the Box Office at (304) 367-4240. Tickets are $6 for general seating and $10 for preferred seating. The production includes adult themes and situations and is not suitable for children. Viewer discretion is advised.
The production of "Edward II" under the direction of Jeffrey Ingman, is a 1994 adaptation by Garland Wright and Jesse Berger, who is a Jacobian scholar and a former classmate of Ingman's. The FSU performances will be the American university premier of Wright's and Berger's adaptation of "Edward II."
The historical Edward II was seventh in the line of Plantagenet kings, serving from 1307 to 1327. He was - especially when contrasted with his powerful and decisive father Edward I - an inept, even disastrous, ruler, less interested in military matters or affairs of state than in lavishing riches on his male favorites. He lost his father's war with Scotland, alienated his Barons and was eventually disgraced and deposed. He came to a gruesome end.
"While the material may appear to be controversial to the casual audience member, it serves a very definite purpose within our theatre program," said Peter Lach, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. "Training student actors with plays which present intense emotional scenes provides them with experiences that prepare them for auditions after they leave the college environment. Because of this training, Fairmont State has enjoyed recent success placing students in first-rate graduate schools and professional summer theatre companies."
The cast includes Daniel Moxley as Edward; Celi Oliveto as Isabella; Shane Belcher as Prince; Jay Lindsey as Kent; Daniel Crowley as Gaveston; Bruce McGlumphy as Spencer; Michael Vozniak as Mortimer; Jeremiah Ripley as Lancaster; Sasha Bohon as Warwick; Josh Brooks as Canterbury; John Fallon as Lightborn; Anthony Host as Monk; Anie Loss as Coventry; Samantha Huffman as Gurney; Ricardo Nesbit, Host, Loss and Huffman as ensemble members.
Christopher Marlowe was the most significant English playwright before Shakespeare, and was in fact Shakespeare's chief influence and rival. His play "Edward II," based on Holinshed's "Chronicles," was the primary model for all of Shakespeare's history plays. In 1593, at the age of 29, a warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on allegations of blasphemy. He was hauled before the Privy Council for questioning and compelled to report to them daily. Ten days later he was stabbed to death under mysterious circumstances.
In the hands of Marlowe, the tale of Edward II becomes an intense, disturbing drama of a king consumed by base passions. A weakling manipulated by the Machiavellian devices of everyone around him, including his homosexual lover, Edward ignores the governance of his country and leaves it at the mercy of powerful enemies. His actions are an alchemy of private desire and public dereliction that will bring his nation and himself to ruin.
Wright's and Berger's alterations to Marlowe's original are chiefly a matter of judicious pruning, with a number of minor characters eliminated and some reassignment of speeches. The result is a play that is more streamlined, but in which the original Elizabethan language, in all its ornate richness and lyricism, is left largely intact. Language notwithstanding, the action is fast and intense, and the setting contemporary. The homosexual theme is emphasized, not by the addition of new material, but simply through the removal of extraneous detail. Under the direction of Jeffrey Ingman, the FSU production will hold true to Marlowe's language, but will shift the setting from the 1980s to the 1950s.
Daniel Crowley and Daniel Moxley
Shane Belcher and Celi Oliveto
Anie Loss, Daniel Moxley and Samantha Huffman
Michael Vozniak and John Fallon