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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Theatre and Dance

SCAPIN at Longstreet Theatre | Feb. 19-27

Bill Irwin's hit Off-Broadway adaptation of Molière's comedy classic comes to Longstreet February 19!

Theatre South Carolina


by Bill Irwin and Mark O'Donnell
Adapted from Molière
Directed by Louis Butelli

February 19-27, 2016

Longstreet Theatre
1300 Greene St.

Show Times:

Friday, February 19: 8pm
Saturday, February 20: 8pm
Sunday, February 21: 3pm
Wednesday, February 24: 8pm
Thursday, February 25: 8pm
Friday, February 26: 8pm
Saturday, February 27: 3pm & 8pm

$12  |  Students
$16  |  USC Faculty/Staff, Military and Seniors 60+
$18  |  General Admission

Box Office: 777-2551
Or purchase in person at Longstreet Theatre.  Box office opens February 12.
Box Office Hours: 12:30pm - 5:30pm, Monday - Friday

Dimitri Woods as Scapin

Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell’s contemporary adaptation of one of Molière’s final plays was an instant smash when it premiered Off-Broadway in 1997, and, as reported in The New York Times, “would have gone over big with the same audience who first saw The Fourberies de Scapin ['Scapin’s Deceits'] in 1671.”  Molière’s outrageous farce introduces us to the trickster servant Scapin (pronounced Scuh-pan), whose expertise in scheming is called upon by two young men, Octave and Leander, both desperate to escape marriages arranged by their fathers.  With the help of his accomplice Sylvestre, Scapin spins ever more elaborate deceptions to help in the men’s romantic pursuits, and achieve some payback for himself in the process. 

“Molière very much came out of the commedia dell’arte tradition,” says director Louis Butelli.  “As the master comedian of his era, he went right to the source material and just started wholesale lifting old comedy plots.”  Commedia dell’arte originated in Italy in the 16th century, and relies on stock characters (of which the trickster Scapino is one) to tell wildly comic, improvised stories.

Irwin and O’Donnell’s version of the classic tale incorporated Irwin’s highly physical clowning technique into the story, a style which this production aims to recreate.  “It’s a kind of new vaudeville,” says the director with a laugh, “very rubbery limbed and agile with lots of kicky legs.  We have a wide variety of body types, and I think what’s going to be amusing is to take that template and see how the different body types respond to it.”

Butelli is quick to add that the script brings a contemporary spin to the centuries-old source material.  “We’re not doing powdered wigs and moles on the cheeks.  This is not period Molière.  It’s very up-to-date as far as the language goes, and while it’s not set in 2016, the action does take place in a recognizable mid-20th-century setting — the distant present.”

Specifically, that setting is a mid-century juke joint — the kind of club in which you might hear the soulful sounds of Ray Charles.  Butelli says that he realized live music is always a central element of Irwin’s original work, and saw the perfect complement to the material in putting a live blues band on stage.

“I feel like all comedy is singing the blues,” explains Butelli.  “It’s finding joy in the midst of the horror of daily life, and finding exuberance even when the world is crashing around you.  That’s the essence of blues and the essence of clowning, so I thought those two things would work really well together.”

Butelli, a guest artist of the University theatre program for this production, has an extensive history with this type of material, and is bringing that experience to the cast.  The professional actor/director has had a long stage career bringing classic comedy to life with such well-respected companies as the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, the American Repertory Theatre and Aquila Theatre Company.

“My entire career has been playing Shakespeare’s clowns and fools.  Plus, I love Molière, who I think was Western literature’s greatest and finest comic writer, and Bill Irwin is just my hero.  I’m honored to have the chance to work on this material.”

From left: Matt Cavender as Sylvestre, Jamie Boller as Zerbinette and Dimitri Woods as Scapin

Cast in the production are second-year graduate actors Dimitri Woods (Scapin), Matt Cavender, Ben Roberts and Carin Bendas, as well as undergraduates Tristan Hester, Michael Castro, Conor Gallagher, Jamie Boller, Jordan Youmans, Rose Mancuso, Imani Hanley, Rebecca Legare-Stevenson, Amy Mew and Kate Hoffman.  The live band, led by undergraduate Freddie Powers (electric guitar), also includes Lachlan Angle (acoustic guitar), Andrew Svenson (bass) and Curtis Smoak (drums).  Designers for the production are graduate students Tamara Joksimovic (scenic design), Rachel Harmon (costume design) and Rachel Sheets (lighting design).  Guest artist Danielle Wilson is designing sound for the production.

The director says he wants to make it clear that, in his words, “This is not an academic exercise.”

“Sometimes when we think about something that has ‘classic’ hanging over it, we make a lot of assumptions that it will be boring or old or not understandable,” Butelli admits.  “This language, though, is totally up-to-the-minute.  If you like South Park, if you like Ricky Gervais or Jerry Seinfeld, if you enjoy what’s happening in comedy right now, you’re going to love this.”

For more information about Scapin or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush via phone at (803) 777-9353 or via email at