California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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In CSUEB’s Newest Play, Something Funny Did Happen

“A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” is a comedy loosely based on Roman playwright Plautus’ farcical work.

CSU East Bay’s Theatre and Dance Department, will be displaying the art of farce will be starting this weekend in the upcoming production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

The show is based roughly off of the ancient Roman comedies of playwright Plautus, whom many consider to be the inventor of farce.

Farce is a type of drama where everything surrounding the plot of the play is all for the sake of comedy and dwells very little or not at all on character development.

“It’s really looking back all the way to the very beginning of comedy,” said director Marc Jacobs.

“Forum” is about a Roman slave named Pseudolus who strives for his freedom. In order for that to happen, he must assist his master in getting  the attention of a woman he is head over heels in love with, but she is already arranged to be with a Roman general. While wooing her, the duo runs into several complications.

Jacobs’ decision to do “Forum” was through arrangement with one of the cast members of the show. Carlos Lopez (who plays Pseudolus) is a Broadway veteran who is currently a student here at CSUEB.

A year ago, he and Jacobs got together to decide what play to perform that would emphasize his skills. While Lopez wanted to perform “Guys and Dolls,” Jacobs felt it wouldn’t work due to the size of the chorus the show would require, the numerous sets, and limited time and budget. Therefore, Jacobs suggested “Forum” instead, due to the strong leading role, comedic timing, and singing for the character of Pseudolus. Jacobs believed Lopez could pull it off.

Jacobs described “Forum” as an unusual piece of theatre due to the general fact that it is a farce being performed as musical comedy.

“Farce is different than comedy because it’s all based on situation much more than character,” he said.

“Just as the characters think they are solving one problem, ten others suddenly arrive. Also, it’s appealing because of the sexy nature of Roman comedy. Using elements of burlesque and Las Vegas, it kind of makes fun of the sexuality that’s motivating a lot of the characters.”

Jacobs said that rehearsals are currently coming along very well. As of two weeks ago, they began doing run-throughs.

What may be surprising for some to hear is that only 17 cast members and ten crew members are working on the production. Jacobs explained that the reason for the limited number of cast and crew members is due to how the show is written.

“The show is written so that there are three people who do what a chorus would normally do,” he explained, “but the joke is that it’s three people that basically do the work of 30, so they’re constantly changing parts and changing costumes. That’s the fun of the show.”

Jacobs’ hope is for the audience to “have a great time and laugh their heads off.” As far as timing goes, he believes the cast will have the audience members laughing at all the right places throughout the show.

“I think people are going to find it very funny,” he said. “For me, the importance of it is we are at a time where there’s all this unrest in the Middle East, our economy is in the toilet, our political situation is completely polarized, and the idea of going to a theater for two hours and 15 minutes and being able to laugh your head off is a very valuable thing.”

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In CSUEB’s Newest Play, Something Funny Did Happen