University addresses dwarf issues

Greed, lust, nudity, and a hydrocephalic dwarf. All this and more will be on display when the University of Calgary’s Department of Drama premieres its latest play, a modern Spanish Theatre script entitled Divine Words.

To undertake a project of such scope was an ambitious task. The cast features 21 actors playing over 40 different roles. In addition to the large company of actors, the script itself was a challenge to stage.

"[The script] doesn’t lend itself easily to the stage, it could be quite a challenge," says Maureen Scoville (the female lead, Mari-Galia).

It is these challenges which force a company to be imaginative in their solutions.

"I think that’s what any company is looking for, something that will challenge them, make them grow," adds Scoville.

With rehearsals beginning mid-October, it has been an intense month of preparation. Scoville credits the show’s director, Gail Hanrahan, for her fantastic vision and direction.

"It’s really so amazing what Gail has done. What seems like a nearly impossible script to put on stage has turned out to make complete sense. She has conceived of ways of doing things that I would have thought were going to be nearly impossible, and she makes it all make sense."

Scoville’s character is the wife of the church’s sexton. When her husband’s sister dies and leaves her son, (a hydrocephalic dwarf) orphaned, a conflict erupts between Mari-Gaila and her other sister-in-law, Marica del Reino (Charlotte Mitchell). The conflict centres around who will have guardianship over the dwarf, the cart in which he lives, and ultimately over the money which can be made from exploiting their dwarfed nephew on street corners via panhandling.

The play follows Mari-Gaila’s interactions with the dwarf; and all of the strange and wonderful characters she encounters.

It is a grand tale that deals with greed, lust, repression, superstition, ignorance, corruption, religious fervour, betrayal, hope, and faith, among other things.

When this twisted and scary yet entertaining play concludes what will audiences take from it?

"I hope they will take from the play that life is scary, sometimes. And that no one is perfect and that’s okay. That we have to, as human beings, embrace the light and dark aspects of our psyches and the world and recognize that each has its place and each is infinitely valuable," says Scoville.

Billed as a dark, bizarre tragic comedy, Scoville promises the play, "is rare and so different, so unlike the plays you’ve seen."

Divine Words runs Dec., 1-4 and 8-11 at 8pm in the Reeve Theatre. Tickets are available from the Campus Ticket Centre and are $10 for general admission and $8 for students and seniors.

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