William Jewell College Theatre presents Christopher Durang and Albert Innaurato’s The Idiots Karamazov at Peters Theater, Nov. 4 through 7 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available at $6 for adults and $5 for students at the door, or by contacting the box office at (816) 415-7590, wjctheatre AT william.jewell DOT edu. Peters Theater is located in Brown Hall on the college campus in Liberty, Mo. The Cardinal’s Jesters, William Jewell College’s improvisational comedy troupe, will open the show.
Dostoyevsky’s classic novel “The Brothers Karamazov” springs to ridiculous life in the William Jewell College Theatre performance of The Idiots Karamazov. In the play, Constance Garnett, an aged, brain-addled incarnation of a famed translator, recounts her translation of Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” Her recollections of the novel soon become a parody not only of Dostoyevsky, but of Western literature in general. Nothing is spared: from Ernest Hemingway to Leo Tolstoy, L. Frank Baum to Eugene O’Neill, the decidedly unorthodox Constance unsparingly butchers them all as characters and situations from various works enter the story of “The Brothers Karamazov” from the dark corners of her frazzled mind.
The production is directed by Dr. Kim B. Harris, professor of theatre, with scene design and technical direction by Nathan Wyman, associate professor of theatre. Musical direction and arrangements are by Bill Coberly, a senior Oxbridge History of Ideas and philosophy major from Denver, Colo., with costumes designed by Amanda Brasher, a senior theatre and ACT-IN major from St. Peters, Mo. Fight scenes are choreographed by Aaron Gotzon, a junior theatre major from Kansas City, North, and the stage manager is Katherine Myers, a junior theatre education and education major from Olathe, Kan.
“Because in addition to directing I also write plays, fiction, and poetry, I can attest to the fact that when one is creating a fictional world, the characters intrude to talk in one’s mind at some of the most inopportune moments,” Dr. Harris comments in his director’s notes. “But the world insists on emerging willy-nilly. The Idiots Karamazov enters the mind of a translator as she attempts to translate a great Russian novel. In the effort she conflates flotsam and jetsam from other Dostoevsky novels, the plays of Anton Chekhov, Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night, and her own neurosis. The fictional world we see pop out of her brain and onto the stage is a riot. It is stream of consciousness gone haywire.”
The Idiots Karamazov was the first professional production for playwrights Durang and Innaurato when it premiered at the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1975. The play was successfully revived in Chicago and at the American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, Mass., in 1999. Durang is the author of such plays as Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You and The Marriage of Bette and Boo. Innaurato has written Gemini and Coming of Age in Soho.
The large cast includes Amanda Blake, Branson, Mo.; Anne Winters, Clarksville, Tenn.; Isak Anderson, Kansas City, Mo.; Hal Monck, Saginaw, Texas.; Lauren Anderson, Fulton, Mo.; Bill Coberly, Denver, Colo.; Linda Guthery, Joplin, Mo.; Justin Bulver, Des Moines, Iowa.; Whitney Jury, Wichita, Kan.; Aaron Gotzon, Kansas City, Mo.; Karina Bielecki, Springfield, Mo.; Amanda Brasher, St. Peters, Mo.; Nyasha Firnhaber, Pretoria, South Africa; Brian Gehrlein, Rolla, Mo.; Anastazia Winker, St. Louis, Mo.; Amber Drane, Armstrong, Mo.; Max Frankel, Liberty, Mo.; Hannah Overton, Liberty, Mo.; Jesse Lopez, Paola, Kan.; Dodger Lance, Fillmore, Mo.; Danielle Davidson, Blue Springs, Mo.; Alex Tracy, Liberty, Mo.; and Stephen Whitmore, Shawnee, Okla.