Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts presents Hannah Cowley’s classic play The Belle’s Stratagem at the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre from Nov. 13 – 15.
The Belle’s Stratagem drags 18th century London into Rob Ford’s Toronto, mocking romance, the city, and other first world problems. A new adaptation by Gyllian Raby and Nicholas Leno makes Cowley’s characters the super-rich kids of Yonge and Bloor, as well as rappers and spoken word artists.
Cowley’s hit comedy of 1783 demonstrated “how to get your man and keep him.” This production frames her outspoken, funny heroines within 21st century culture and grapples with the conundrum that they have quite a lot in common with contemporary women who obsess over romance.
The director, dramatic arts Associate Professor Gyllian Raby, seeks to provoke audiences with text, graphics, music and dance — think consumerism, superficiality, and social media addiction. A witty kaleidoscope of romance, privilege and desire, The Belle’s Stratagem sets out to query today’s emphasis on lifestyle and our fantasies about fabulous wealth, celebrity and true love.
Scenographer Kelly Wolf’s set and costumes take us to Toronto, city of the elite. The set is designed as a giant QR code, reminding us of our media-constructed consumer society where iGizmo users seek immersion in completely designed environments without questioning where they came from.
Lighting is by Jenny Jimenez, and the show is animated with projections by Caitlin English and David Bernard. Music is set, arranged and composed by Joe Lapinski (assisted by Bri Lidstone), and the actors are choreographed by hip-hop artist Rachel Romanoski.
The Belle’s Stratagem cast: Emily Ferrier (Letitia Hardy); Daryl Hunter (Doricourt); Katelyn Lander (Mrs. Racket); Cole Larsen (Mr. Hardy); Chloe Coyle (Frances); Mark Harrigan (Sir George Touchwood); Sean Cottrell (Courtall); Jonah McGrath (Saville); Angelina Colosimo (Kitty Willis); Nicola Franco (Mr. Flutter); and Marie Barros (Miss Ogle).
Street band cast members include Lena Hall, Gordon Graham and Jesse Heichert. They also play the servants in the play and perform the Spoken Word interacts. The cast is rounded out by beloved Brock alumni David MacKenzie and dance aficionados Rachel Romanoski and Rory Vandenbrink. Nicholas Leno is the assistant director, and the stage manager is Nicole Titus.
Director Gyllian Raby states, “We want the rhyming women of Georgian times to high-five our contemporary spoken word rhymers. I know it’s bizarre, but numbers from Rick Ross, Lil’ Mama, and Salt’n’Pepa somehow mash up well with Hannah Cowley’s language.”
The Belle’s Stratagem performances will be held in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre from Nov. 13-15 at 7:30 p.m., with a matinée performance on Nov. 14 at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $12 for groups, and $5 for the eyeGo high school program, and are available from the Centre for the Arts Box Office. Call 905.688.5550 x3257 or visit: Arts.BrockU.ca/