The Braggart Soldier
by Plautus
Translated by Erich Segal1
(Research and adding this to our repertoire, by Rose de Le Mans)
Pronunciation Guide by Vittoria Aureli2
Performed at: West Kingdom Twelfth Night, January 3, AS XXXVIII (2004)

Synopsis:
This play was written by Plautus, pre 184 B.C. The basic premise is that there's a soldier who, before the play starts, stole a courtesan whom he fancied from a gentleman in Athens who loved her very much, and the soldier took her to Ephesus, where she lives in his house, and .... As the play begins, we find out what has happened in the past (kidnapping the girl ...), and what's currently happening, namely that her lover from Athens has come to Ephesus, and is staying at the house next door to the soldier's as a guest of the elder gentleman who lives there. A tunnel has been dug between her room and the neighbor's house, which the soldier knows nothing about. She's been able to see her lover because of this. The action starts from here.

The translation that we are working with is from a performance done in Elizabethan England by some college students.

Research and Design:
Rose de Le Mans is our primary researcher for this, and has put a lot of work into trying to design (with the assistance of Aldith Angharad St. George, who did the drawing ...) costumes for the characters that might have been used in Elizabethan England, by college students doing a play. One idea that was kind of funny that was tossed about a bit for discussion was having the actors in standard Elizabethan garb and such with a wrap (semi-toga like) to give a feel of the period.

The actual designs for costumes are more elaborate in appearance, but are quite literally stage costume, as opposed to what we often do -- create garb that can be worn off the stage at an SCA event.

Comparison of original sketches for costumes, and photos of the actors in same.

Other research info?

The Performance:
The performance was good. Everyone was on. The play starts off a bit slow, as there's a bit of exposition, setting up the problem(s), etc. But once it got going, the audience came with the actors, and laughed in all the places we hoped for, and some we weren't sure if they'd go for ... I think everyone who participated should be happy with how it came out. Everything came together. It's very much like the running gag in the movie Shakespeare in Love, that goes something along the lines of:

     Don't worry, it will all come together.
     How will it?
     I don't know, it's a mystery!

Mystery? Well, not really. It's the hard work that every individual puts in, but you do start to wonder at times. It did almost feel like a mystery, but we always manage to pull it off.

Incidents:
Casting was a bit of a trial, but only because some of the core group of the Players have gotten either a little crispy around the edges (okay, a lot ...), and/or some of them have a lot going on mundanely, etc., and don't feel that they would be doing themselves or the troupe a service to try to do everything. Frankly, I'd rather they figured it out before or during the casting process, than a month before performance. (In rehearsal for our third show we had an actor cut out on us the week before the show because he was over-loaded ..., so I'm much happier to deal with it now.). This does give us the chance to bring in some "new blood", which we're doing. We have five new faces in a cast of 11.

During the time we were rehearsing at Teresa's back yard, Teresa came down with another heart problem, and spent time in the hospital after surgery. For Teresa this was of course pretty nasty. For the troupe, it meant finding another place to rehearse as well, because we didn't want to be making it hard for her to rest from surgery, by having a lot of noisy actors in the house and back yard. Oh well. She is recovering nicely at this time, which we're all happy to hear.

We rehearsed in three different locations, Teresa's back yard, Ghislaine and James' house (in their dining room specifically), and finally at the (new) home of Naadirah and Robert, with the sets.

Of course, rehearsing at Naadirah and Robert's new home had the fun aspect that they hadn't moved in yet. But it did allow James and others to paint the set indoors when it rained (they were going to sand that floor anyway ...).

The flu season was particularly virulent this year, and we had various folk out of rehearsals due to illness. I don't think we've had more than a sporadic rehearsal with the full cast, and of course, the closer to performance, the worse the flu problems got.

And then there was the memorization and being off-script issue. The difficulty is that one character is on stage for most of the play. The actor (Juan) doing the part did his best, but it was difficult to get everyone else off script if one actor still had his ... oof.

The final rehearsal, which we were allowed to do on site for the first time on Friday night, was pretty frightening. People were dropping lines that they had done flawlessly the previous rehearsal, and one scene was completely skipped over. This apparently scared the actors, and the next day, which was the day of the performance, they did a full line-through, and were more confident. The performance itself was really good. The few lines that got messed up were not obvious to the audience, and the performance went really well.

 Photos:
Photos of the play from the Dress Rehearsal on the evening of January 2. These are all at the West Kingdom History website.

In addition, a photo that didn't really seem appropriate for the History Site, as I was in mundanes, by Katarina's mother:


Hirsch (Director) in mundanes, and some of the cast just before final dress rehearsal

Video?
Unfortunately, we had camera failure this year. The camera was old, and due to concerns about other things, no one checked it to see that it worked before the performance. So we got everything set up, plugged in, power was going to the camera (as could be seen by the lights on it), but nothing was in the viewfinder. Juan set it up for a wide-angle setting on the tripod, but when attempts were made to record, the tape didn't move, and ... so unfortunately we don't have a video of this one. We're all a bit disappointed, but there are some things you just can't control, and we were focused on the performance itself.

 The Script:
While I don't think we can legally get away with posting the original script, as it was translated by someone who may still hold copyright on the translation, the version shown here is the one we used for our performance, which was cut for length, and some other modifications were made ... The Braggart Soldier (PDF)

From The Program:
As usual, we had a variety of things in the program that are fun to share with others. This group's really frighteningly creative at times ...

Dramatis Personae

PrologueHirsch von Henford
Pyrgopolynices, a soldierRobyn MacLaren
Artotrogus, his parasiteMorgan Mac Eoin
Periplectomenus, an old man from EphesusFionnbharr O'Cathain
Palaestrio, a slave to the soldierJuan Santiago
Sceledra, a slave to the soldier Anahita al-Qurtubiyya bint ‘abd al-Karim al-Fassi
Pleusicles, a young man from Athens Aimeric de Foix*
Lurcio, a slave to the soldier Robert of Ravenshill*
Philocomasium, a girl abducted by the soldier Katarina Geirsdóttir*
Acroteleutium, a courtesan Ghislaine d'Auxerre*
Milphidippa, her maidMargrethe Astrid Ravn
A Slave BoyMorgan Mac Eoin
Caria, Periplectomenus' cook Naadirah bint ‘Ali*
Slaves of PeriplectomenusIricus le Ferur
Wulfric of Creigull
Seamus Padraig O'Baiogheallain mě-Nŕrach


* First time on stage with the Golden Stag Players

Support Crew

DirectorHirsch von Henford
Assistant DirectorRose de Le Mans
ProducersHirsch von Henford, Rose de Le Mans,
Aldith Angharad St. George
Stage ManagerRivkah Ströbele
Stage CrewThe Cast
TrumpetSeamus Padraig O'Baiogheallain mě-Nŕrach
Set Design and Construction, Painting Seamus Padraig O'Baiogheallain mě-Nŕrach,
James Andrew McAllister
PropertiesThe Cast
Costume DesignRose de Le Mans, Aldith Angharad St. George
CostumesRose de Le Mans, Aldith Angharad St. George,
Some Cast Members

Special Thanks

As usual, we had to do something in the way of biographies that was not "normal" for bios ... and, well, we did. At least this one sort of stayed with the theme of the play.

MUSES

The GSP has only ever really needed one muse: COMEDY.
     When we first auditioned for the Muses and their backers for patronage, it was slim pickings:

The rest is mythology.

However, over the years it didn't seem like there were enough muses to explain some troupe members' inspiration. Hence, you will find below the names of the muses who have inspired members of our troupe. (Listed in order of character's first appearance on stage.)

Hirsch von Henford: Directori – Muse who inspires those who think they are in charge, and/or inspires people to create (often useless) listings of information.

Juan Santiago: Thaumaturgi – Muse of tricksters, jugglers and con-men. But definitely not birthday party clowns. Don't even go there.

Rivkah Ströbele: Crimeni – Muse of unexpected or surprised exclamations.

Robyn MacLaren: Dysni – Muse of annoying tunes that get stuck in your head and won't go away. Ever.

Morgan macEoin: Bemusé – Muse who inspires ... Oh look, a deer!

Anahita al-Qurtubiyya bint ‘abd al-Karim al-Fassi: Dissenteri – Muse of Exotic Cuisine! Born to Listerio and Salmonella, oldest sibling of the three Gastros (the others being Amoeba, muse of asexual reproduction, and Giardia, muse of tightened stomach muscles and fetal positions).

Robert of Ravenshill: Archeri – Muse of enforced projection of sharp objects; only useful at 3 specific yardages. She is the only ancient known to replace her sharp objects with blunts before battle.

Fionnbharr O'Cathain: Tetrapyloctome – Muse of "The art of splitting a hair four ways."

Katarina Geirsdóttir: Indecea – Muse of getting away with just about anything (usually by sneaking away from authority and innocently posing as one's twin sister).

Aimeric de Foix: Sinkronisite – Muse of managing to be on the toilet whenever the phone rings.

Ghislaine d'Auxerre: Ephemera – Muse of transitory reality and magicians' assistants.

Margrethe Astrid Ravn: Empathi – Muse of feeling other people's pain, supported by the fact that she was the one who caused said pain in the first place.

Naadirah bint ‘Ali: Undulatia – Muse of sinuous and sometimes sensual shimmies set to sandy saharan song; sometimes slow, sometimes speedy, seldom subdued and certainly sensational.

Iricus le Ferur: KiKi – Muse who inspires ... ooooooh! Shiny!

Wulfric of Creigull: Mendasiti – Muse who inspires researchers to create obscure, yet surprisingly plausible documentation.

Seamus Padraig O'Baiogheallain mě-Nŕrach: Horni – Muse who inspires old (and not so old) men to love her and her and her and her and ...

(Not on stage, but vital to our production)

Rose de Le Mans: Kalamite – Muse of broken dishes, female sharpshooters and people who put black olives on their fingers.

Aldith Angharad St. George: Ennuie – Muse of boredom, who inspires me to FIND SOMETHING TO DO FOR CHRISSAKES. (Or maybe that was my Mom.)

James Andrew McAllister: Wonkae – Muse to gremlins, Oompa Loompas ... and chocolate.

And finally, a couple of "ads" were placed on the back ...:

"By Hercules, we've run out of side dishes in Olympus! Whatever will we do?"

(Enter Pyrgoplynices carrying a large bowl.)

"Fear not! It is I, destiny's dashing darling of the kitchen! And I bring --

THE OLIVE SALAD OF THE GODS!!!"

-Pyrgopolynices Catering -- We're who the Gods call when they are feeling peckish

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Reviews:

Posted on SCA-West (the West Kingdom mailing list):


"And much fun the play was! This is the first time I've managed to actually *see* one of the Golden Stag Players plays and if earlier offerings were this funny, I'm even more sorry I missed them!" -- Christophe d'Avignon
"I enjoyed the play immensely, as did my parents and housemate. ... And I confess that I am something of a production snob, having grown up backstage at melodrama theaters." -- Cassandra Rossignol

Notes:
1 Plautus: Four Comedies, Oxford University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-19-283896-2.


2 Pronunciation of the Classical Greek names of Plautus' characters was provided by Lady Vittoria Aureli, with many thanks by the GSP. She noted the following while providing the pronunciation guides. We hope that we didn't butcher the language too badly ... "Classical and Modern Greek have vastly different pronunciation rules. Since you're doing Plautus (which *totally* rocks! his stuff is wonderful), the Classical pronunciation is what you probably need. (And these names are not strictly Greek - the spelling, and hence the pronunciation, are Latinized.) However, there is also a standard Anglicized pronunciation, which is different for some of these names, but will probably sound more familiar to the audience (and is the pronunciation typically used in English-language renditions of the Greek and Roman classics). I'll give you both versions, and you can decide which you would rather use. Hope that's not too confusing! (Also, just a note in Greek and Latin, you flip the "r" the same way you do in Italian or Spanish.)" -- Vittoria Aureli