STUDY GUIDE A NEW DROP-DEAD MUSICAL COMEDY
A Gentleman’s Guide to
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Study Guide Objectives This study guide serves as a classroom tool for teachers and students, and addresses the following Common Core Standards and Connecticut State Arts Standards: English and Language Arts • Reading Literature: Key Ideas and Details 3. o Describe how a particular story’s or drama’s plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution. (Grade 6) o Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot). (Grade 7) o Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision. (Grade 8) o Analyze how complex characters develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme. (Grades 9-10) o Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where the story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced or developed). (Grades 11-12) • Reading Literature: Craft and Structure 6. o Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text. (Grade 6) o Analyze how differences in the points of view of the characters and the audience or reader (e.g., created through the use of dramatic irony) create such effects as suspense or humor. (Grade 8) o Analyze a case in which grasping the point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant. (Grades 11-12) • Reading Literature: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 7. o Compare and contrast a written story, drama, or poem to its audio, filmed, staged, or multimedia version, analyzing the effects of techniques unique to each medium. (Grade 7) Theatre Arts • Content Standard 5: Researching and Interpreting. Students will research, evaluate, and apply cultural and historical information to make artistic choices • Content Standard 6: Connections. Students will make connections between theatre, other disciplines, and daily life • Content Standard 7: Analysis Criticism, and Meaning. Students will analyze, critique, and construct meanings from works of theatre • Content Standard 8: History and Culture. Students will demonstrate an understanding of context by analyzing and comparing theatre in various cultures and historical periods 2
Guidelines for Attending the Theatre Attending live theatre is a unique experience with many valuable educational and social benefits. To ensure that all audience members are able to enjoy the performance, please take a few minutes to discuss the following audience etiquette topics with your students before you come to Hartford Stage.
• How is attending the theatre similar to and different from going to the movies? What behaviors are and are not appropriate when seeing a play? Why? o Remind students that because the performance is live, the audience can affect what kind of performance the actors give. No two audiences are exactly the same and no two performances are exactly the same—this is part of what makes theatre so special! Students’ behavior should reflect the level of performance they wish to see. • Theatre should be an enjoyable experience for the audience. It is absolutely all right to applaud when appropriate and laugh at the funny moments. Talking and calling out during the performance, however, are not allowed. Why might this be? o Be sure to mention that not only would the people seated around them be able to hear their conversation, but the actors on stage could hear them, too. Theatres are constructed to carry sound efficiently! • Any noise or light can be a distraction, so please remind students to make sure their cell phones are turned off (or better yet, left at home or at school!). Texting, photography, and video recording are prohibited. Food and gum should not be taken into the theatre. • Students should sit with their group as seated by the Front of House staff and should not leave their seats once the performance has begun. If possible, restrooms should be used only during intermission.
Setting the Stage: Where are we in Time and Space? Understanding the setting of a play gives background, depth, and perspective to audience members watching a show. In A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the playwright, Robert L.. Freedman, blends real places and historical characters with characters and places he’s imagined (for example, Highhurst Castle is not a real place) to create this comedic, period piece. Set in England in 1903 during the Edwardian Era, Freedman creates a historically accurate, though comedic, setting for this play. The play begins in London. London at the time was still growing and expanding in population, industry, and size. As the city began to expand into newly formed suburbs through the use of public transportation, the poor began living in conditions that were disgusting, dirty, and crimefilled. Prostitution, gambling, theft, and murder became a continual problem for the city, specifically in the suburbs. Meanwhile, the upper classes and aristocratic elite were still living a lavish lifestyle, and looked down upon the grunge and grime that surrounded London’s poor. Unemployment was growing in London in the early 1900’s. In many instances, trade workers and skilled laborers were only in demand during specific seasons or time periods. As more immigrants moved to London, the supply of workers grew vastly larger than the demand, driving unemployment up and creating a sense of desperation. The middle classes fared adequately during this time period. Respectability, style, and manners were highly valued coming out of the Victorian Era and many middle class citizens at the time were 4
able to do rather well for themselves without living beyond their means. In A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the character Sibella is an upper-middle class woman who certainly carries herself with dignity and class. During this time period, there was a great amount of emphasis placed on appearance and respectability. On the other end of the spectrum, the wealthy people living during this time period were enjoying a more lavish lifestyle. The wealthy, and in particular the aristocracy, were quite far removed from the poorest classes. Customs and appearances dictated the day to day lives of the wealthy. The highest class adhered to a strict code of social etiquette which detailed what they wore, how they moved, to whom they spoke, and other details of their social and love lives. The use of dialect in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder provides an added nuance in setting the stage. During the show the audience hears many different British dialects. Each dialect indicates the part of the country that the character hails from and, at times, also gives the audience a distinction between the classes. The actors worked with an accent coach to ensure authenticity as many actors use multiple dialects during the show. For more information about British History, including dialects, please refer to the learning section of the British Library for a plethora of digital and multimedia resources. http://www.bl.uk/ learning/index.html
Monty Navarro, ANTIHERO An antihero is a character that simultaneously conveys the attributes of a hero and a villain. Unlike a typical hero, the antihero has flaws and demonstrates more human shortcomings. Sometimes the antihero can be compared to a vigilante. Writers can make their audience connect or empathize with a character who is committing malicious acts when the root of their actions seems to be virtuous or heroic. Thus, it’s easy to get swept up in behavior (greed, crime, selfishness, etc.) that if presented differently, the audience/reader may condemn. Monty Navarro is an example of an antihero. He is portrayed as an underdog character that the audience almost can’t help but root for. To begin with, his quest to rise above his present circumstances is presented as noble, virtuous, and fueled by familial love for his mother. The audience is excited that he is given the opportunity to live out his mother’s hopes for his future. In rapid succession, Monty is dismissed by Sibella, disowned by the D’Ysquith family, and left feeling unhappy and rejected. While his motivations remain the same, his actions become more and more terrible and yet he remains a character that the audience wants to see succeed as he manipulates the people around him to get ahead, and beings to systematically kill his relatives to become Earl.
Character List MONTAGUE (“MONTY”) D’YSQUITH NAVARRO, Ninth Earl of Highhurst SIBELLA HALLWARD, the girl he loves PHOEBE D’YSQUITH, a cousin and ASQUITH D’YSQUITH JR., a dandy” REVEREND LORD EZEKIAL D’YSQUITH, a clergyman* LORD ADALBERT D’YSQUITH, Eighth Earl of Highhurst* LORD ASQUITH D’YSQUITH, a banker* HENRY D’YSQUITH, a country squire* LADY HYACINTH D’YSQUITH, a missionary* LORD BARTHOLOMEW D’YSQUITH, a body builder* LADY SALOME D’YSQUITH, an actress* NESMITH D’YSQUITH, a janitor* (*All played by the same actor) Ensemble: WOMAN #1 WOMAN #2 MAN #1 MAN #2
Other Examples of Antiheros: Literary (Character, Title) • Holden Caulfield, A Catcher in the Rye • Jay Gatsby, The Great Gatsby • Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein • Iago, Othello • Severus Snape, The Harry Potter series
Film (Character, Title) • Batman, The Dark Knight • Captain Jack Sparrow, The Pirates of the Caribbean series • Sweeny Todd, Sweeny Todd; The Demon Barber of Fleet Street • Robin Hood, Robin Hood • Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
Television (Character, Title) • Dexter Morgan, Dexter • Walter White, Breaking Bad • Jessie Pinkman, Breaking Bad • Gregory House, House • Emily Thorne, Revenge • Michael Scott, The Office
Themes and Topics for Discussion Class and British Aristocracy In A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder well-to-do characters seem to shun the poor and bask in their wealth and gluttony. The impact that wealth has on Monty Navarro’s life is clear. The rigid distinction between the classes is something that many can connect to in 21st century America, a nation where unemployment is high and many feel that their lot in life is determined by their financial status.
Era, with elaborate décor in his castle and his overthe-top tendency to turn his nose up at the poor— beginning when the tourists pay a visit to his home in the first act. Lord Adalbert is disgusted, appalled, and in turn prompted to sing, “I Don’t Understand the Poor.” Adalbert shows arrogance and comedic disregard for characters of limited means. LORD ADALBERT: I don’t understand the poor/The lives they lead/of want and need/I should think it would be a bore./It seems nothing but stubbornness./What’s all the suffering for?/To be so debased/is in terrible taste./I don’t understand the poor. (Act 1, “I Don’t Understand the Poor”)
In the first scene we meet Monty who, although living in a prison cell, is living the life of an aristocrat, being shaved by a barber and referenced as All the while, characters like “Lord.” We quickly learn, Sibella long to dine at the castle however, that Monty’s found and hobnob with the Earl. fortune is fairly recent, During dinner at the palace, as the scene shifts to a Sibella mentions, “The servant more tattered, “sad parlor, problem in London is dreadful. decorated to make the most You simply can’t keep anyone of meager means” (Stage for longer than six months” Directions, Act 1). There is a (Act 2), thus asserting her own shift in Monty’s confidence, status and wealth. demeanor, and attire. Miss Shingle enters with the Lady Hyacinth is another fortunate news that Monty character that illustrates the is a descendant of the elite stark differences between the D’Ysquith family line, and wealthy and the poor. While that exactly eight relations she is philanthropic in her stand between Monty and Costume sketch for Lord Adalbert. By Linda Cho. pursuits (quite the opposite of Lord Adalbert D’Ysquih, the Lord Adalbert), she seems to be Eighth Earl of Highhurst. Monty is shocked by the using her charitable work to make a good name news and can’t believe that it could be true, given for herself and raise her esteem. In her song “Lady that his mother worked long, hard, hours to feed Hyacinth’s Dilemma,” she complains about not their family and to try to send Monty to Cambridge or Oxford. “I’m afraid you’re mistaken.” Monty says, being able to find charitable work that doesn’t bore “Mother took in laundry and washed the neighbors’ her. She uses volunteering as a way of “one-upping” her other well-to-do friends instead of a way to give floors until her hands bled. Does that sound like back and truly help those in need. the life of an heiress to you?” (Act 1) He goes on to compose a letter under his newly discovered The dichotomy between the wealthy and the family name, asking his cousin to hire him at his poor is perhaps most clearly illustrated in the scene stockbroking firm and backing his familial claim where Monty first meets Henry D’Ysquith. Monty with promises of hard work and dedication to walks into a fight between Henry and a local farmer, the company. The audience is given an underdog the farmer clearly upset that his land is being character to root for. claimed by the bank. Henry is obviously quite well Lord Adalbert provides a clear example of the off, dressed well, and as Monty puts it, “had long opulence of the wealthy class during the Edwardian since prospered from his Cambridge education and 6
was enjoying a life of ease” (Act 1). FARMER: Just ‘cause you and your sister already own half the county doesn’t give you the right to buy up my land out from under me, what’ been in my wife’s family for generations! HENRY: I’m afraid you lost your land to the bank, my friend, not to me.
(He grabs Henry by the collar.) FARMER: I ain’t no friend of yours, you selfish toff! HENRY: I say, why don’t we calm ourselves down… (Act 1)
Later in the scene, Henry goes on to tell no one in particular “I’ll foreclose on the whole country if it suits me!” The arrogance in his demeanor shows his indifference towards displacing the working classes. Throughout the show Monty’s thirst for money and power grows as he uses dastardly tactics and murder to achieve his goals. In the end he is confronted with a character who holds qute the opposite opinion Chauncey D’Ysquith, the janitor at the prison, seems to be perfectly content with his lot in life: JANITOR: They (the D’ysquiths) don’t even know me. It’s true, I ain’t got none of the advantages of being a D’ysquith, but I ain’t got none of their troubles, neither. (Act 2)
Questions: 1. Is there dignity and pride in being of limited means? Does wealth contribute to a person’s pride? How did wealth change Monty’s character? 2. How important is wealth in a relationship? How does wealth impact the relationships in the show? (i.e.-Monty and Sibella, Monty and Phoebe, Lord Adalbert and Lady Eugenia, Sibella and Lionel) 3. Whose view of wealth and power do you relate to more—Monty’s or Chauncey’s? 4. How does the costume designer use costumes to denote class (specifically for Monty)? How do people use clothing to distinguish themselves today?
Excerpt from: The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained Fans and flowers have each their language, and why not handkerchiefs? No reason having been discussed, it has transpired that handkerchief flirtations are rapidly coming into fashion. Handkerchief Flirtations: Dropping..................................We will be friends Drawing it across the cheek........I love you Drawing it through the hands.....I hate you Twirling it in left hand......I wish to be rid of you Folding it............................I wish to speak to you Drawing it across the forehead...We are watched Placing it on the right ear........You have changed Winding around the third finger....I am married Putting it in the pocket..........No more at present Fan Flirtations: Carrying in left hand...Desirous of acquaintance Carrying in right hand...........You are too willing Twirling in left hand........I wish to get rid of you Closing it............................I wish to speak to you Drawing across the eye......................I’m so sorry With handle to lips.............................Kiss me Open wide..........................................Wait for me Open and shut..................................You are cruel Hat Flirtations (Men only) Running the hand around the rim.......I hate you Running finger around the crown........I love you To incline toward the nose..........We are watched Putting it behind you.......................I am married Putting it in front of you.....................I am single Putting it under the left arm...............I will be at the gate at 8 pm Touching the rim to the lips..............Does he accompany you Putting the hat on the head straight........All for the present
Living Inside Out The theme of living inside out, that outside looks can be deceiving, manifests itself several times throughout A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. Monty is a character that is often judged incorrectly by his appearance or how he seems on the outside. Consider his smooth demeanor throughout the duration of the show: he charms and coerces those around him while her murders his way to the top of the D’Ysquith family line. It seems at first that his intentions are pure when he writes to his cousin looking for work, saying, “I am in need of employment. . . I am considered honest and reliable, not without intelligence or common sense, and I am not daunted at the prospect of hard
Phoebe, in contrast to Monty, does not want to be judged by her outward appearance and affluent upbringing. She is a sweet, intelligent, kind character whose wealth and status have not influenced her negatively. She feels that people make assumptions about her without getting to know who she truly is: PHOEBE: I know they talk about me in the village. They see a girl who’s rich and not unattractive and from an important family and they assume…well, they assume a lot of things. The truth is, none of them know me at all. Not who I truly am. (Act 1) Phoebe wants to be with someone who can appreciate her inner beauty and her mind. Henry tells Monty that Phoebe has turned down plenty
“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” ― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross work” (Act 1). After he is rejected by Lord Asquith D’Ysquith his attitude quickly changes and fuels his more blood-thirsty sense of entitlement and revenge. He sings: MONTY: What can I do for the D’Ysquiths/to repay their warm embrace?!/What can I take from the D’Ysquiths/except, perhaps, their place?/But with eight other D’Ysquiths ahead of me,/their foolish pride survives./What can I take from the D’Ysquiths . . ./ except, perhaps their lives. (Act 1, “Foolish to Think (Reprise)”) In particular, Phoebe D’Ysquith finds herself tied up in Monty’s outward deception. It is ironic that she is the one who introduces the audience to the concept of living “inside out” while remaining blind to Monty’s unfavorable nature. Phoebe falls in love with Monty, marries him, and trusts his innocence because she only knows the Monty he chooses to share with her. 8
of suitors, and she herself makes her romantic intentions very clear in the song “Inside Out:” PHOEBE: And when I meet the man for whom I’m fated,/I’ll know the one I’ve waited for is he,/for he will find these wealthy trappings overrated/and he will see what no one sees in me. (Act 1 “Inside Out”) Phoebe thinks that she has found that man when she is introduced to Monty by her brother Henry, who speaks rather highly of him. She seems to quickly develop feelings for Monty as the two share a romantic moment on the swing. All the while, Monty is fully aware that he has sabotaged Henry’s beekeeping suit with the intent of causing his untimely demise. When Henry dies due to the “beekeeping accident,” Monty is there to console Phoebe and extends incredible kindness towards her in her hour of need. Phoebe remains blinded by his charm and charisma, simply seeing a kind man from humble means that cares about her. Sibella, on the other hand, is another character who seems to care most about what’s on
the outside. She is caught up in how she looks, the finer things in life, and making a name for herself. From the moment we first meet her, she’s talking about her looks and appearance. Sibella sings about herself, her appearance, and briefly about her love for Monty. The song “I Don’t Know What I’d Do Without You” gives the audience a brief introduction to the way that Sibella thinks.
Love and Lust Consider the character of Monty’s mother. The play begins just after her death, but her decisions in life spark the chain of events that occur throughout the show. Monty’s parents marry for love. While Monty’s mother begins her life with the comfort and prestige afforded to a D’Ysquith, she
PHOEBE: And every one you’d meet/on any London street,/if they be sweet/or horrid/it would show./I would be overjoyed,/ the heartache I’d avoid,/if I could look at you and know. (Act 1, “Inside Out”) SIBELLA: Do you hate these earrings?/The truth, don’t be kind./I don’t mind,/ because I hate them too./ No, no, no, don’t squeeze./ Monty, you’re a tease./Oh, Monty, look, my shoe! (Act 1, I Don’t Know What I’d Do Without You”) During this song Sibella is quite dismissive toward Monty. Monty persistently tries to share the exciting news of his new claim to the fortune, while Sibella routinely cuts him off to sing at length about herself. While Sibella has no intention to marry Monty, she has no problem leading him on. She loves the power and seduction that her charm and good looks have given her. At the end of the show, Sibella seems to show true feelings for Monty, leaving us to wonder whether or not those feelings are fueled by his new status or by genuine love.
knows that her choice of a husband will mean being disowned by her family. She was willing to give up her status for the man she loved. Monty seems to have a lot of trouble with women throughout A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. With the introduction of Sibella the impact of wealth on the romantic relationships in Monty’s life is slowly revealed. Finances and love seem to trouble Monty throughout the duration of the play. While Sibella seems smitten with Monty it doesn’t seem like his demeanor or ability to hold a conversation is enough for her. Sibella cannot seem to overcome her need for finery and status. SIBELLA: Oh Monty. The man I marry will have wealth and position. MONTY: I will have wealth and position. SIBELLA: What would we live on until then?
Questions: 1. How would living “Inside Out” change your school? The world?
MONTY: Sibella, has it never occurred to you to marry for love? SIBELLA: Now you’re being cruel. (Act 1)
2. Do you think it’s always good to live inside out? Is there ever a time when what’s on the outside is more important?
Sibella is involved with and eventually marries Lionel Holland—a man with prominent stature and money. While she is with Lionel she is still involved with Monty, showing the audience that 3. Compare and contrast the character of Monty love, lust, and money all play a role in her romantic at the beginning and end of his journey. decisions. As Monty rises in status, Sibella seems Did you root for him? Did you ever wish he to become more and more interested in pursuing would stop? Why? their relationship. Monty revels in the fact that his new-found wealth finally gives him the upper-hand. 9
MONTY: Do you mean that? SIBELLA: I suppose it would depend on whom you married, and whether you married for love, or— MONTY: Or self-interest, you mean. I could not do the former very well, as I am in love with you. But you must admit it would be foolish not to do the latter. SIBELLA: (lets out a sigh) I suppose there is something in marrying for love. I thought I was in love with Lionel. (Act 2)
Sibella can be seen either as a temptress with a hidden agenda, or as a woman who truly loves Monty and doesn’t know how to be with him; either way, she puts her own life on the line for him in the end, lying to the detective to save Monty’s life.
Costume sketch for Phoebe. By Linda Cho.
Monty had never experienced this kind of power before in any aspect of his life. In Act 2, he sings of his love for Sibella: MONTY: Oh, there’s that voice with the promise of sin./And oh, those lips with the promise of bliss./I know that your embrace/ is a treacherous place./There’s danger in your kiss./This is the face of a woman/a man could easily worship/for all of his days./ But a man could as easily lose his sanity/ deciphering your gaze. (Act 2 “Sibella”) Sibella is perfectly aware of the power that she has over him, though she becomes quite threatened when she realizes there’s another woman in the picture. When Monty brings up the possibility of marrying someone else their exchange reveals a bit about their feelings on marrying for love versus for wealth and position. 10
MONTY: I wonder…what would you do, Sibella, if I were to marry?
Costume sketch for Sibella. By Linda Cho.
Phoebe D’Ysquith is introduced as a more romantic character—someone who loves Monty despite his limited means, stating, “Regardless of SIBELLA: Forbid it. your past, it’s clear you are a gentleman.” (Act 1) MONTY: You think that would be effective? She has turned down suitors before and is looking for someone to love her for the person she is, not SIBELLA: If it were not, I should never speak for the flash and wealth of her family name. She to you again. believes her status and appearance give people a
false impression of her nature. Her love for Monty is sincere and is not tied to wealth or power.
seems to bring him purpose and self-assurance. As Monty gains more power and wealth, however, he also becomes quite corrupted. Even after he is Monty certainly has a fondness for both accepted by the D’Ysquith family and invited to Phoebe and Sibella and finds each woman join their family business, he continues to murder appealing in different ways. Sibella is the woman people to get ahead. In addition to his heightened that Monty has loved for so long; she is gorgeous, status, Monty experiences the thrill and power of coy, and passionate. She is his constant temptation, not getting caught. When he is finally exposed even once she is married to Lionel. Phoebe is sweet, and thrown in jail, he seems unable to believe that intelligent, and sincere. His feelings are articulated anyone could have figured out his plan. Monty most clearly when revisits each of his Phoebe proposes to murders and seems Monty. Monty is caught flabbergasted by the in a tricky situation, “Power does not corrupt. Fear accusation made with Sibella in the against him. corrupts... perhaps the fear of a bedroom and Phoebe at the door. Literally MONTY: But more to loss of power.” trapped between two the point, what events lovers, Monty lets the now conspire/to make John Steinbeck audience know how he them think it was truly feels about each I?/I’ve dispatched half woman. a dozen,/each one a cousin,/all of them quite by design./It’s not a MONTY: Look at Phoebe!/Noble and pious,/ defense,/it just makes no sense,/this murder my esteem for her only grows./But when I was not one of mine! (Act 2, “Stop! Wait! am with Phoebe/I am on fire thinking of/ What?”) Sibella!/Full of desire,/passion, and dare I say it?/Love!/But when I’m with Sibella,/ whom do I admire?/None but Phoebe!/ Perfect and lovely!/Who couldn’t love her?/ Questions: Heaven knows!/Round and round and round it goes! (Act 2 “I’ve Decided to Marry You”) 1. Research the campaign funds for the current presidential election. Is it possible to obtain Questions: power without money? Defend your position. 1. If you were Monty’s mother, which would you choose—to marry the love of your life or to continue to lead your life with the comforts of your distinguished name? 2. Compare and contrast the characters of Phoebe and Sibella. Consider their personalities, the way they treat Monty, and their physical appearance (costuming). 3. Who did YOU want Monty to end up with? Why?
Money, Power, and Corruption Monty begins the play humbly. He wants nothing more than a job and a comfortable wage. As the show goes on his wealth increases and as he gets closer and closer to becoming Earl, we can see a clear shift in Monty’s confidence; his esteem
2. Do you think someone could maintain power without becoming corrupt? Provide a historical or modern example. 3. Compare Monty to Lord Adalbert and the janitor. Describe each in terms of their wealth, power, and corruption. 4. Think about Steinbeck’s quote about power. What do you think drives Monty more, the thrill of power, or the fear of losing it? 5. Consider the cultural obsession with celebrities—how does fame and wealth give celebrities power? Think about product endorsements, PSAs, and running for political office.
Literary Connections: Comparing Characters Lord Adalbert vs. Ebenezer Scrooge
in want of common comforts, sir.
In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Ebenezer Scrooge is a frugal, grumpy, and heartless man who leads a life rooted in work and money. Scrooge often puts the need for money and personal gain before the comfort of his fellow human beings. As a result, Scrooge has very few friends and leads a life of solitude. When examining Scrooges’ character it is important to look at the way he interacts with his nephew, Fred. Fred is part of Scrooge’s family and yet Scrooge remains dismissive and rude. In fact, Scrooge is dismissive and rude to all the people he encounters. The only positive relationship that is discussed is between Scrooge and andyone is with his now deceased business partner Jacob Marley. Marley is portrayed as equally cut-throat and eager to maximize profit at the expense of others. In this way, readers can clearly see why the two men got along so well.
SCROOGE: Are there no prisons?
The character of Ebenezer Scrooge especially turns his nose up at the poor, stating often that they should remain in poorhouses, orphanages, and prisons. This character has become “Christmas Carol.” Courtesy FCIT. iconic for his money-hungry and cold-hearted nature, as illustrated in this scene from Hartford Stage’s annual production, adapted by Michael Wilson. 1ST SOLICITOR: At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at this present time.
1ST SOLICITOR: Plenty of prisons. SCROOGE: And the workhouses? Are they still in operation? 1ST SOLICITOR: They are. 2ND SOLICITOR: I wish they were not. SCROOGE: Oh! I am very glad to hear it. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. 1ST SOLICITOR: Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude, a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor meat and drink. 2ND SOLICITOR: What may we put you down for?
1ST SOLICITOR: You wish to remain anonymous. SCROOGE: I wish to be left alone, sirs-that is what I wish! I don’t make myself merry at Christmas and I cannot afford to make idle people merry. I have been forced to support establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost me enough. Those who are badly off must go there. 2ND SOLICITOR: Many can’t go there, and many would rather die.
2ND SOLICITOR: Hundreds of thousands are
Suggested reading: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens Jeckyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson 12
SCROOGE: If they would rather die, then they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—it’s not my business. It’s enough for a man to understand his own business. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen. (Act 1) Lord Adalbert, Eighth Earl of Highhurst, has a similar disposition toward the people around him. While he isn’t as surly as Scrooge, he certainly isn’t warm and inviting. He is quite self-involved. He’s surrounded by the lavish trappings of his castle and is displeased when he is forced to entertain guests or allow tour groups into his home. He feels that the people are like “leeches” looking to shamelessly feed off his prosperity. Glaring similarities can be seen between Scrooge and Lord Adalbert in regards to their treatment of the poor. Lord Adalbert articulates his negative opinion of the poor quite freely during the song “I Don’t Understand the Poor” in Act 1. LORD ADALBERT: Putting the lame and the halt aside,/why accept charity?/I am perplexed by their attitude./I contend we extend them/too much latitude. My tenants have no excuse,/at Christmas I give them a goose./Where’s the integrity?/Where’s the gratitude? (Act 1, “I Don’t Understand the Poor”) LORD ADALBERT: We teach them to read/ but do they succeed?/When they’re hungry and frail,/we feed them in jail!/We send them off to war!/I don’t understand,/I’m not being grand,/I don’t understand the poor! (Act 1, “I Don’t Understand the Poor”)
Questions: 1. How are Ebenezer Scrooge and Lord Adalbert different? 2. Lord Adalbert is portrayed as a comedic character. How do the writers and actors make such a despicable character funny? 3. If you had the wealth of Lord Adalbert or Ebenezer Scrooge what would you do with it? How could you give back to the community?
nature is shown in his quest for power and revenge. Another character who shows this distinction between good and evil is Dr. Jekyll (and Mr. Hyde) in the novel Jekyll and Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. In the novel, Dr. Jekyll’s research seeks to separate the raw, unfiltered, negative impulses within a human from good-natured, consciousdriven, rational behaviors. As he progresses on his quest to isolate good and evil, Dr. Jekyll begins to use himself as a test-subject. What emerges from this experiment is Mr. Hyde, a monster of sorts, who lacks the conscious and judgment of Dr. Jekyll. While Dr. Jekyll enjoys his transformations into Hyde, Hyde becomes more and more violent and impulsive. His behavior gets out of control and he begins to murder. Jekyll also loses control of his transformations into Hyde; it begins to happen automatically. This clear-cut example is often used to show the duplicity of man. Monty Navarro is fueled by, and becomes slave to, similar dark impulses. As he begins to climb the ladder and rises in wealth and status, he loses his inhibitions. He begins killing without a sign of remorse. In fact, Monty’s confidence seems to build every time he kills and doesn’t get caught. Monty revels in literally getting away with murder. As the show progresses, the members of the D’Ysquith family accept Monty as a one of their own and begin treating him with kindness. Monty doesn’t allow their respect and good-natured attitude to get in his way on his quest for the Earldom. As Monty systematically kills members of his own family, his “Mr. Hyde” side clearly shows. As he writes in his memoir: MONTY: I have decided to create a purely factual record of events, to leave behind an objective memoir. I suppose one could call it “A Gentleman’s Guide…to Murder.” Or should I say—“Love and Murder.” I dare say it will be of interest—the world is always more curious to hear about vice than virtue. (Act 1)
Monty vs. Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
1. Should Monty have admitted his guilt? When?
Monty Navarro is a character who exemplifies both good and evil. He begins his journey as a good and virtuous man whose evil
2. Discuss Freud’s Id, Ego, and Superego. How does this theory of personality pertain to characters like Monty? 3. What other literary characters seek revenge?
Spotlight on Costumes: Linda Cho, Designer Q: What research did you have to do before you started costuming the piece?
Before beginning any new project, Linda first and foremost needs to establish a clear understanding of the setting (time and place) of the play. After reading the script, Linda met with Darko Tresnjak, the director, “with an open mind.” It’s important for the designer to get a feeling for what the director’s vision is. After meeting with Darko, Linda did a vast amount of research into the Edwardian Era. She also researched the Victorian Era, which directly preceded the Edwardian Era. Her initial research included fashion photos, as well as photos of real people from the time period. While some research was general, certain costume pieces needed to be researched individually. Costume pieces such as Henry’s beekeeping outfit and the religious garb of the Reverend needed special attention to ensure historical accuracy. Linda also used movies and television shows that are set in the same period (like Downton Abbey) to help inspire her design choices.
any necessary design changes are made. She says this is one of the great things about working on a new piece, as well as one of the challenges. Q: What are some of the other interesting challenges of costuming this piece? In this play, several of the actors play multiple characters, and Jefferson Mays singlehandedly plays all of heirs to the D’Ysquith family. Linda tried “to be mindful of their sanity backstage” and allow simple pieces that could be layered to create different looks for different characters. In some instances a character is only on stage for a brief period of time and Linda needed to use the costumes to tell a complete story very quickly. It would be easy to get caught up in the elaborate details of costumes from the Edwardian Era, but that would be unrealistic and unnecessary for the stage. Linda points out that when working on a film, the details become much more important, but for the stage, she really tries to focus on the big picture.
“Even if it’s a show that’s already been established, I’d like to think we as designers come with a fresh point of view.”
Q: What were the differences between costuming for a world premiere show versus a show that’s already been established? Linda treats every show like a world premiere. She notes that she will refer to other productions to figure out what works and what doesn’t, but beyond that, each designer’s job is to bring their vision to every show. Linda shared that one of the big challenges of working on this particular show was adapting to changes made during the rehearsal process. Because this is a world premiere, the show is constantly changing and adapting as the creative team and actors work in rehearsal to refine the production. As the costume designer, Linda has to be on her toes to ensure that
Q: Can you explain your thoughts behind the costuming for Monty? How did you denote his change in wealth and status? Men’s-wear “vocabulary” is limited today and has been limited for quite some time. “Men have slacks and shirts,” says Linda. The first half of the show poses some interesting challenges because the actor who plays Monty goes back and forth between his life as a man of limited means and a well-todo Earl. Linda distinguishes these two distinctly different periods of Monty’s life with just the basic
“You’re not going to make tons of money and you don’t get tons of praise...do it because you absolutely love it and there’s nothing else you’d rather do.” pieces—pants and a shirt. In the second half of the show, Linda uses a “sleeker” fabric and silhouette to denote Monty’s change in status, an overall “wealthier” suit. Q: Which costume piece was your favorite and why? “It was very fun to design for Sibella and Phoebe.” Linda loved playing with classical and “steam punk” elements in their costumes to create really unique pieces. Sibella is costumed in pinks and reds; she repeatedly refers to her pink dress, asking Monty, “don’t you just love me in pink?” Linda shares that Sibella begins the show in pinks and as she grows and matures, she is seen in darker, richer shades of red and maroon. In contrast, Phoebe is essentially in mourning when she is introduced, and so her costumes are rather dark. As the show progresses, her color palette gets lighter. These two women are always in opposition as the show progresses.
complement her own vision and align with the director’s overall vision for the show. While the modern elements added something unique and thrilling, she also knew that the design needed to be strongly grounded in the time period. During the Victorian and Edwardian eras people used clothing as a way to distinguish themselves. Clothing was very important in day to day life, and in order to convey this story effectively social class and propriety had to be clearly demonstrated through costumes. Linda points out, “Now, if you are born poor you can work your way up, whereas in this time period in England you can’t work your way up the social classes.” Q: What made you choose costuming as a career? What advice do you have for students interested in this line of work?
Linda chuckled as she confessed she thought Q: Can you explain “steam she was going to be plastic punk”? Why did you choose to surgeon. Her undergraduate blend modern elements into this degree is in psychology and Costume sketch for Bartholomew. By Linda Cho. her intention was to move on historical piece? in the medical field. It wasn’t “Steam punk” is a until after she graduated movement that blends historical fashion - in this that she considered costume design as a career. case, Victorian with modern elements. Steam punk Her advice to students thinking about a career in is a sexy and dark way of reimagining classical design?...“Try EVERYTHING! Think of this work pieces. A conversation with Jefferson Mays, the and also think of other things as well—don’t pigeon Tony Award winning actor playing the D’Ysquith hole yourself.” While she was in college she took family, inspired Linda to incorporate Steam Punk classes in costume design and started working on elements into her design. She met with Jefferson shows in the summertime. For Linda, it was her to discuss how he envisioned his characters and mother who suggested that she try to make costume Linda felt “steam punk” would add something fresh design work as a career. Linda stresses that the most and unique. She described “steam punk,” as well important thing is to love what you do, which she as the show itself as, “fresh with a little darkness clearly does. and sexiness.” Linda felt this aesthetic would 15
Activity Suggestions Living Inside Out Have students explore the concept of living inside out by taking a look at their own lives. Begin with a discussion about what it means to live “inside out” to lead into this visual art project. Students can use real masks or pieces of paper to make a collage depicting what they put forth to the world. The collages can be made up of images/words they find online, in magazines, or create themselves. On the inside of the mask (the side that would be against their faces) they can include images that represent what they feel on the inside, things they are less willing to show to the world. If time allows they can present these masks to the class, choosing to share things about themselves that other students may not know. Adaptation: Instead of creating a collage about themselves students can also use this same project to crate the “inside” and “outside” of different characters in A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder or another literary work.
What happens next? Writing Prompt Suggestions
Exposé! A Gentleman’s Guide Tabloid Have students consider each of the following characters and write a tabloid/gossip column exposing their deepest darkest secrets! For each of the characters encourage students to decide what spin they want to put on the article. Sibella: Love Sick or Money Hungry? Analyze Sibella’s actions throughout the show to judge whether or not her relationship with Monty is genuine or if she’s just after his (or anyone’s) money. Monty: Hero avenging his mother’s death or Villainous murderer? Consider Monty Navarro’s path to Earldom and make the call! Did you find yourself rooting for Monty? Did you ever stop? Lord Adalbert: Simply a product of his upbringing? Lord Adalbert’s treatment of the poor is viewed as insensitive and unfair but is it all his fault? He’s never known anything other than a life of comfort and luxury—can he be blamed for his small-minded thoughts and actions?
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder leaves the audience with several questions and keeps students thinking even after they leave the theatre. Use the loose ends in the show as a *One step further! Real world connections: catalyst for some excellent prediction writing! Some questions that may help your students write the next • How do modern women compare and portion of Monty’s story include… contrast to women in the Edwardian Era? Use examples to support your • Sibella and Phoebe are seen shaking hands answer. at the end of the show indicating they worked together to free Monty. What do you • What defines a person, their actions think this means for Monty’s romantic life? or their intentions? • A character is introduced at the very end of the play who sings the line “I am standing here with poison in my pocket.” What do you think that means? Who is this character? • How would the ending of show have been different if the guards had read Monty’s memoir? • Do you think Monty will become like Lord Adalbert? Why? 16
• How are we products of our upbringing? What can help us understand others better?
Wealth and Status Improv
Props: A deck of playing cards
Ackroyd, Peter. London: The Biography. New York: Anchor Books, 2000.
Use this improvisational game to get students thinking about the way people of different statuses are treated in society today. Create a scenario where all the students would be interacting with one another, for example a party, social outing, or in the workplace. For older students a company holiday party serves as an excellent setting. Once your scene has been set, hand each student a playing card face down. Without looking at their own card students place their own playing card on their head with the number facing out. The number on each card represents their characters “status” in the group. Instruct students to treat people with highnumbered cards as if they were a higher status and people with lower numbered cards as if they were a lower status. Allow some time for students to mingle with one another. Helpful Hints: • Think about how people of different social classes greet and address one another. • Make sure the people who are higher in status are comfortable; go out of your way to make sure they have everything they need. • Treat lower-status people as if they were working at the party as opposed to attending. • Once you think you know what your number is group together with other people who are similar numbers. Once it becomes clear that students think they have an idea of what their numbers are, have them try to line up from twos to aces. Once they’re in a line have the students reveal their number. Allow students to share why they felt they were that number.
Discussion Questions: 1. What parts of this exercise felt true to life? Do you think you treat people of different statuses better/worse? 2. How can we, as a society, adjust our way of thinking?
Diggles, Dan. improv for actors. New York: Allworth Press, 2004. Government Printing Office. Official Gazette. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1912. “Dress Form.” Retrieved October 8, 2012 from http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/77600/77617/77617_ dress.htm Inwood, Stephen. A History Of London. Great Britain: Macmillan, 1998. Mee, Arthur and Thompson, Holland, eds. The Book of Knowledge. New York: The Grolier Society, 1912. “Handkerchief.” Retrieved October 8, 2012 from http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/21100/21104/ handkerchief_21104.htm Petrie, Sir Charles. The Edwardians. New York: W.W. Norton, 1965. Schneer, Jonathan. London 1900: An Imperial Metropolis. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999. Sylvester, Charles H. Journeys Through Bookland. Chicago: Bellows-Reeve Company, 1909. “Christmas Carol.” Retrieved October 8, 2012 from http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/17300/17329/carol_17329. htm Wehman, Henry J. The Mystery of Love, Courtship and Marriage Explained. New York: Wehman Bros., 1890. http://www.bl.uk/learning/index.html
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Study Guide written by: Crystal Schewe Study Guide edited by: Jennifer Roberts With contributions by: Ayla Kapiloff Elizabeth Williamson Special thanks to: Linda Cho
Study Guide for A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder