Director takes on Steve Martin-adapted farce
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble presents "The Underpants." | Photo courtesy of Buffalo Theatre Ensemble
Jan. 18-Feb. 3
McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn
(630) 942-4000; atthemac.org
Updated: January 10, 2013 1:00PM
Buffalo Theatre Ensemble’s Associate Artistic Director Amelia Barrett likens rehearsing a farce to administering medication.
“You have to take it easy and go slowly,” said Barrett, who is directing the theatre’s production of “The Underpants.”
The Buffalo Theatre Ensemble will present “The Underpants” beginning on Jan. 18 at the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage.
“The Underpants” is an adaptation by comedian, actor and writer Steve Martin of a Carl Sternheim play called “Die Hose,” which was written in 1910. Set in 1910 Germany, the play begins when Louise, a beautiful but neglected young wife, is attending the king’s parade and unexpectedly drops her drawers. Great concern overcomes her husband, Theo, as he fears a scandal and financial ruin. But the incident attracts suitors to rent the spare room in their home while bringing an assortment of surprises. The play also carries a bit of social commentary.
“From Lady Gaga to Lindsay Lohan, our airwaves, Web pages and newspapers are filled with accounts of people seeking fame with a touch of notoriety,” Barrett said. “While this play gives our audiences the chance to reflect on this social phenomenon, it also provides mayhem to make them smile.
“The play is really silly and really fun,” she continued. “It is so much about the 15 minutes of fame.”
Barrett is pleased to be directing this adaptation because she is a fan of Steve Martin, whom she met once when she was living in California.
“I find Steve Martin fascinating,” she said. “On one hand he is the comedian from the 1970s with the arrow through his head and then he can turn around and talk about (German philosopher Frederich) Nietzsche. He is a banjo player, and then he is also an art collector — he
is so interesting.”
Martin also wrote the play, “Picasso at the Lapin Agile,” which premiered at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company in 1993.
For BTE’s production of “The Underpants” and other shows she has directed, Barrett is always a little concerned about getting all the details done before the show is presented to an audience.
“The time constraint is always a challenge,” she said. “You have to just try to enjoy it. Somehow it always works out.”