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your local theatre company Villanova Players presents

I talian StrawHat

"Un Chapeau de Paille d'Italie"


by Eugéne Labiche

Translated and adapted by Rod Thompson and Maria Plumb Directed by Maria Plumb

19 Nov - 4 Dec 2010

It’s VERY French!

It’s VERY Funny!

“The Theatre”, Seven Hills TAFE Clearview Tce, Morningside

Play 4, 2010

Villanova Players Established 1948

Villanova Players meets the first Wednesday of each month, 8pm at “the hut” in Balmoral Park, Jean Howie Drive, off Bennetts Road. Come along, enjoy the entertainment and see what we’re all about! And you can also find us on Facebook. Headquarters Jean Howie Dr. Balmoral Park off Bennetts Rd, Morningside Postal Address PO Box 465 Morningside Q 4170 Phone (07) 3395 5168 Email Web

Management Committee President Leo Bradley Vice President Jane Binstead Secretary Meagan Lawson Treasurer Rod Thompson Members Trevor Bond Andrew Heron Audrey McKibbon Mary Woodall

Casting Committee Michael Byrnes Maria Thompson Rod Thompson Samantha Tierney Leo Wockner

Patrons Most Reverend J. Bathersby, Archbishop of Brisbane Honourable Mr C.W. Pincus QC Ms Judi Connelli

Special Thanks Dan St Ledger for his carpentry skills; JAFA for the millinery shop display hats; Jenny Lake for vocal and choir coaching; Loraine O’Leary for her sewing skills; Laurie Monsour, for the many invaluable services he provided towards the realisation of this production; and to “Victor” and “Erica” the accordians. Villanova Players is especially grateful to the teachers, facilities management and security staff at Southbank Institute of Technology for the use of the Theatre and their continued assistance and support for our productions


(In order of appearance) M’lle du Lac Musician............................................................Cindy Lake Felix Servant to Fadinard...........................................Michael McNish Virginia Maidservant to Anaïs Beauperthuis.................. Samantha Yeates Aunt Vézinet Aunt to Hélène...................................................Jenny Brunner Lionidas Fadinard A Gentleman – The Bridegroom....................... Luke Monsour Anaïs Beauperthuis A Lady without a Hat.........................................Meagan Lawson Emile Tavernier A Lieutenant of the Hussars..............................David Jones Nonancourt A Nursery Gardener, Father of the Bride.......... Rod Thompson Hélène The Bride, Daughter of Nonancourt..................Holly Williamson Bobin Nephew of Nonancourt, Cousin of Helene........Andrew Heron Clara A Milliner............................................................Helen Ekundayo Tardiveau An Accountant and Night Watch Volunteer....... Danny Kennedy Petit-Pierre Nonancourt A Wedding Guest..............................................Richard Gillies Antoinette Voiture A Wedding Guest..............................................Sandra Hogan Marie Voiture A Wedding Guest..............................................Robyn Kearney Baroness de Champigny A Patroness of the Arts..................................... Mary Woodall Achilles de Rosalba A Young Lion.....................................................Blaise Ahern Gaston A Servant Of The Baroness.............................. Matt Knox Duc de Chateau Sateau A Guest at the Soiree........................................Jeff Ahern Duchess de Chateau Sateau A Guest at the Soiree........................................Helen Ekundayo M’lle Ondine A Guest at the Soiree........................................Liz Morris Madame de Camembert A Guest at the Soiree........................................Margaret O’Donnell Clotilde Chambermaid of the Baroness......................... Samantha Yeates Signor Nisnardi of Bologna Tenor..................................................................David Jones Signorina del Lago-Largo Accompanist to the Great Nisnardi................... Cindy Lake Beauperthuis A Man of Wealth and Substance.......................Trevor Bond Corporal Trouillebert A Corporal of the Night Watch...........................Matt Knox

Crew Stage Manager Margaret O’Donnell Assistant Stage Manager Elizabeth Morris Production Liaison Cindy Lake Lighting Designer Cindy Lake Sound Designer Gregg Goriss Technical Operators Neil Goodwin & Erin Burton Set Design & Construction Rod Thompson, Cindy Lake, Anne Monsour, Danny St Ledger, Heinz Brunner, Neil Goodwin, Laurie Monsour and members of the cast & crew Set Artwork Ed Johnson Music and Lyrics Anne Monsour Musical Direction Anne Monsour & Cindy Lake Costumes Leo Bradley Special Props Anne & Laurie Monsour Dance Movements Helen Ekundayo Graphic Design Michael McNish Publicity Jane Binstead, Andrew Heron & Meagan Lawson

About the Playwright An Italian Straw Hat was the defining work for writer Eugene Labiche, who was born into a middle-class family in 1815. Labiche studied law, and wrote several short stories and reviews, before finding himself drawn into the world of vaudevillian theatre as a playwright. It seems this was not an easy decision, with sentiment of the day discouraging an ‘immorally irregular’ career in theatre. On marrying, Labiche made a solemn vow to the parents of his bride that he would renounce his profession, then deemed incompatible with domestic stability and bliss. A year after marrying and no longer able to bear his unhappiness, Labiche’s wife released him from his vow. He dedicated the first edition of his complete works to her. After retiring to farming in 1877, a friend of Labiche’s convinced him to publicly release his collected works. In 1878 and 1879, a mammoth 10 volumes of his collected comic plays were released to overwhelming public enthusiasm. Such was the success of these works that Labiche was elected to the Academie Française the following year. Labiche passed away in 1888, a hero of comedy and acclaimed purveyor of farce.

Synopsis of Scenes Act I The apartment of Lionidas Fadinard in a fashionable quarter of Paris. Act II A millinery shop. Act III The home of the Baroness de Champigny. 20 minute Interval ($2 supper) Act IV The apartment of M’sieur Beauperthuis. Act V On the street outside Fadinard’s apartment

About the Play

About the Director Maria Plumb joined Villanova Players in 1962 and her first role was in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Since then she has performed in many plays, including Pygmalion, The Miracle Worker, Woman in a Dressing Gown, A Doll’s House, Money and Friends, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, To Kill a Mockingbird, Over the River and Through the Woods and Enchanted April. Her most recent role was earlier this year in Lettice and Lovage. For Arts Theatre, Maria has performed in Death of a Salesman, for Camerata in Pinter’s Old Times, and for Community Theatre in Dusa, Fish, Stas and Vi, Cabaret and An Italian Straw Hat. While on a working holiday in London in the 1970s, Maria studied acting at the Marian Naylor Academy, and directing for community theatre at the City Literary Institute. She has directed Stage Door, Travelling North, Away, Fresh Fields, and collaborated with husband Rod Thompson in adapting and directing The Busybody, and in 2006 directed Dr Ox: The Experiment, written by husband Rod. Maria was a reader and script development advisor for Playlab Inc. and Playlab Press for many years.

The story goes that on the opening night of the first-ever performance of Eugene Labiche’s Un Chapeau de paille d’Italie (or, The Italian Straw Hat) in August 1851, the theatre manager was so certain of its impending failure, he left town that very day. He needn’t have worried; it was such an overwhelming success that it went on to see more than 300 performances, apparently unheard of in the 19th century. It has been made into an operetta by W.S. Gilbert and George Grossmith, a ballet, an American farce by Orson Welles, and a silent film by Rene Clair. Its life continues.

Director’s Notes I’m a hat person. There are always 3 or 4 hats of various types and colours in my car, ready to grab mainly for sun protection, but often just because I feel like wearing a hat. I’m sad about the passing of hats as a fashion accessory. My favourite shop was ‘Hats by the Hundred’, sadly no more, but one of my last purchases before it closed its doors in Queen Street, was a large brimmed hat with cream roses bearing the words ‘100% straw. Made in Italy’. That was in 2005, and reminded me of the fun I had when I performed in the late Gilbert Spottiswood’s production of An Italian Straw Hat, at the Woodward Theatre at Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education, as it was then – 1976. I had played Clara, the milliner, and Rod, my future husband, did the lighting for the production. There was no script available in English, so I obtained a French copy from the public domain, the Internet, and set about translating it – using my, I must admit, limited French, an excellent dictionary, and a soupçon of guesswork. I did most of this when we were in Holland for 4 months in 2006, while Rod was researching for his PhD. Some of the 19th century French dialogue seemed to have no equivalent to 21st century English, so when Rod had his doctor’s floppy hat firmly on his head, he joined me in my task of adapting the over-long version I had into a workable script for presentation. We read it aloud, pruned and trimmed, reworked whole Acts, redefined the characters and it is Version 9 that we present to you tonight. We thank Anne Monsour for responding so wonderfully to our request to write the songs which link the Acts. Above all, I thank my dedicated cast and crew for the many hours of work and fun they have given to bringing An Italian Straw Hat to the stage. Rod and I would like to dedicate this production to Gilbert. Reviving this play has been a labour of love, as it was through Gilbert and his work as a “community theatre director at large” for the Queensland Government Arts Department, that we happened to meet. Gilbert Spottiswood was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1987 to study theatrical interpretation at the Andreas Voutinas School in Paris in order to improve the quality of cultural projects in Queensland. Gilbert passed away in 1990 and his memory is honoured by the award of an annual perpetual Churchill Fellowship.

Maria Plumb

About the Composer Many years ago, Anne Monsour joined the Genesian Theatre in the heart of Sydney. Circumstances brought her to Brisbane, where in 1966 she became a member of the Genesians’ “sister” company, the Villanova Players. Since then she has worked with a wide variety of organizations as writer, director or lyricist. From 1983 to 1995, Anne acted as artistic director for Tictac Theatre company, touring shows for primary and secondary schools in Queensland. She was delighted to be asked by Maria to contribute songs for An Italian Straw Hat.

About the Cast (In alphabetical order)

Blaise Ahern

Viscount Achilles de Rosalba Blaise embodies acting and the theatre, and is studying the craft at the Southbank Institute where he recently performed in their production of Lysistrata. Blaise has played a student in Villanova Players’ Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet, and Simon Collart in Dr Ox – the Experiment, and truly went Over the Top With Jim when he once knocked the whole set down during a live performance! Blaise would love to play a dramatic character in A Modern Adaptation on Reality.

Jeff Ahern

Duc de Chateau Sateau Jeff describes himself as a ‘bit’ actor in ‘bit’ parts! Jeff was the town official in Over the Top With Jim, an English gentleman in Indian Ink, and Andrew Schut in Dr Ox – the Experiment. Jeff’s funniest moment on stage was masquerading as a school boy rugby player (complete with wig!) in the rugby scene in Over the Top With Jim.

Trevor Bond

Beauperthuis Trevor is a dedicated thespian from way back, and reckons it’s likely he’ll cark it on stage some day! Trevor has performed in and directed plays with numerous Queensland companies, including Toowoomba Repertory, Kingaroy Theatre, St Luke’s Theatre, Wynnum Mercury Theatre, and of course, Villanova Players. He recently appeared as Lockwood in Wuthering Heights and as Marko Blasko in David Williamson’s Influence. Trevor has also performed professionally with the Australian Ballet Company. His on-stage talents have extended to tap dancing with two left feet as Will in Oklahoma, and exhibiting fast reflexes when ducking flying crockery at the end of Blithe Spirit.

Jenny Brunner

Aunt Vézinet While Jenny is slightly disturbed by a tendency for certain aspects of Aunt Vézinet character to inhabit her off-stage, we’re all grateful for the regular laughs she has provided during rehearsal! Jenny has been part of Villanova Players for many years and was recently seen on-stage earlier this year as Lotte in Lettice and Lovage. She has previously enjoyed working with Luke Monsour in The Busybody and Fresh Fields. Jenny says she had a lot of fun trying not to giggle with David Jones in Man Alive, and was nightly amazed at Fiona Kennedy’s ability to cry real tears in Edith Stein. Jenny loves the exaggeration of the farce genre, and says timing is a challenge in this play, particularly when one is playing a deaf person!

Helen Ekundayo

Clara / Duchess de Chateau Sateau Helen’s favourite thing about acting in a farce is being ‘sincerely silly’! While this will be the first time she has performed the cancan, Helen has been dancing since the ripe old age of five, and has performed numerous roles with Villanova Players, Mercury Theatre and Ignations. We last saw her on-stage with the VPs as Vi in The Memory of Water. Helen’s favourite role has been playing Mavis in Stepping Out – it reminded her of teaching an adult tap class in real life.

About the Cast Continued

Richard Gillies

Petit Pierre Nonancourt Theatre has been a large part of Richard’s life over the past 2.5 years. Richard has greatly enjoyed being involved with Villanova Players’ productions, as Assistant Stage Manager of Getting Betterer all the Time, and appearing in The Playboy of the Western World and Lettice and Lovage. Richard can’t wait to be part of future productions, and looks forward to playing bigger roles, having more lines and exploring challenging characters.

Andrew Heron

Bobin While this is Andrew’s first on-stage appearance with Villanova Players, he has been active behind the scenes over the last year as part of the publicity team, and has displayed plenty of technical know-how in operating lights and sound.. Earlier this year, Andrew played the lead role, Rupert, for St Luke’s Theatre’s production of Darling, I’m Home. Andrew has also appeared in several of the monthly meeting performances. Although he’s been cast as the ‘lovable goof’ in An Italian Straw Hat, many might not know that Andrew has a PhD in Engineering!

Sandra Hogan

Antoinette Voiture On stage, Sandra played a number of important roles in Villanova Players’ Over the Top With Jim, both on and off-stage. Sandra played Mrs Bushell and Sister James, was the show’s official photographer, and worked on posters and flyers. Sandra hails from a strong singing background, currently singing with the Bach Choir and annually with the Chorus Oz. Sandra has enjoyed singing in choirs for the past 10 years.

David Jones

Emile Tavernier / Signor Nisnardi David spent 10 years touring state and private schools for the Queensland Arts Council, and 3 years on Bonaparte’s Afloat performing theatre restaurant. David joined Villanova Players in 1978 and was last seen on stage either this year as the surly man in Lettice and Lovage. He continues to love every minute of it. His favourite role has been The Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance at Ignations, but if he could play any role again, it would be Stinko in Lottie – The Musical, which VPs presented in 2005. David says that being in a new, exciting play with a record number of standing ovations was something very special.

Robyn Kearney

Marie Voiture This is the first time Robyn has been on-stage since school, and she says she is loving the experience. Robyn played Clara Eynsford-Hill in Pygmalion and was in the chorus for Pirates of Penzance during her school years. She cringes remembering walking out of a door on-stage, only to find the doorknob had fallen off in her hand! Here’s hoping no doorknobs remove themselves during Robyn’s performance as Marie Voiture.

Danny Kennedy

Tardiveau This is Danny’s second role with Villanova Players, having appeared in Live at the Trocadero in 2009. Before that there was a hiatus of 25 years in on-stage performances, which were filled with writing and directing school musicals – a welcome distraction for an Economics teacher! In the role of Tardiveau, Danny is hoping to channel his French ancestry, which can be traced back to the French Revolution. In fact, he is starting to wonder if an 18th century ancestor may have been too much like Tardiveau – “no wonder he lost his head!”

Matt Knox

Gaston / Corporal Trouillebert In his acting life, Matt has most enjoyed playing Richard III in Shakespearean Checker Board, saying he loved the depth and complexity of the character. Matt has also featured in a Villanova Players monthly play as George in The Chair. His most difficult on-stage experience involved forgetting his lines during the debut of a play that the writer had battled through immense difficulty in getting performed! Of An Italian Straw Hat, Matt has most enjoyed the light-hearted humour and camaraderie.

Cindy Lake

M’lle du Lac / Signorina del Lago-Largo While living the life of a musician for the most part, Cindy also has vast theatrical training in everything ranging from lighting and set design to event co-ordination. The Villanova Players have been lucky enough to utilise Cindy’s lighting talents for The Shifting Heart, Lottie – The Musical, Indian Ink and Over the River and Through the Woods. She also designed the set for Playboy of the Western World, and has come straight from designing the murky atmospheric lighting of VP’s last production, An Inspector Calls. Not content with only one role, as well as learning to play the accordion and mandolin for An Italian Straw Hat, Cindy has donned the hats of Lighting Designer and Production Liaison.

Meagan Lawson

Anaïs Beauperthuis Not only does Meagan enjoy being on-stage with Villanova Players, she also plays a vital role as Secretary for the group. Meagan appeared in 2010’s Lettice and Lovage, and in her first major role with VPs, played Carmela in David Williamson’s Influence earlier this year. With Carmela, she got to play a spoilt, self-centred, egotistical, prima donna second wife, who she likes to think is a far cry from her own persona! Meagan has also performed in many monthly meeting plays. She would also like a longer bio, but that would be a far cry from her own persona.

Michael McNish

Felix Michael was last seen as a tourist in Villanova Players’ production of Lettice and Lovage earlier this year. He’s at home on-stage, and his biggest dramatic highlight thus far was the opportunity to do a week’s residency with the Queensland Theatre Company. Michael has also done plenty of workshops with actors and QUT Acting staff, and dreams of playing Hamlet. Michael is a professional marketer and has a passion for designing great stuff - including this programme!

About the Cast Continued

Luke Monsour

Lionidas Fadinard Luke’s acting life began at age four, and he landed his first film role at age eleven. Since then Luke has acted with numerous companies in roles ranging from a musical clown to Horatio in Forget Hamlet for the World Shakespeare Congress. For Villanova Players Luke has with the technical side of production for many shows, as well as appearing on-stage in Snapshots From Home, Rumors, The Busybody, Indian Ink, Fresh Fields, Over the River and Through the Woods, and one of his favoutrites Lottie - The Musical. Also for VPs Luke has directed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Season’s Greetings. When not hanging out in a theatre, Luke passes time as a filmmaker and multimedia artist and teaches at the Griffith Film School.

Elizabeth Morris

Mademoiselle Ondine Liz is no stranger to Villanova Players, having played Connie in David Williamson’s Influence earlier this year, and appearing in other productions including The Memory of Water, Dr Ox – the Experiment, Fresh Fields and Dancing at Lughnasa. Liz has also lent her stage management expertise to Faces in the Street, The Importance of Being Earnest and The Shifting Heart. Liz says her most embarrassing on-stage moment was trying to control a coughing fit during a poignant moment in The Memory of Water.

Margaret O’Donnell

Madame de Camembert Margaret, better known as Mickey, is well-known around the Villanova Players traps. Mickey joined VPs in the 1960s, and her first play was Farewell, Farewell Eugene, during which she met and eventually married her sweetheart, John. While Mickey’s favourite acting role was as Leila in The Shifting Heart in both 1965 and 1982, her favourite all-round role is as a mother of 4 and grandmother of 11. According to Mickey, the most challenging part of being in a play is learning lines, so she prefers to be involved in Stage Managing and other behind-the-scenes roles.

Rod Thompson

Nonancourt Rod’s claim to fame is once appearing on-stage with Sir Robert Helpman at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Brisbane – but it could be said a bigger claim to fame is that he is a co-adapter of An Italian Straw Hat! Rod also co-adapted The Busybody, and wrote Dr Ox – the Experiment, based on a Jules Verne short story. Rod has played Petkoff in Arms and the Man, Van Tricasse in Dr Ox - The Experiment, and the strange apparition in Good Night Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet. Rod has directed Harp in the South and Getting Betterer All the Time. His favourite part is his current role as Nonancourt.

Holly Williamson

Hélène Holly is a Villanova Players virgin, and it’s been 7 years since she last treaded the boards. Holly has played Coral in Away with Rockhampton Little Theatre, Annelle in Steel Magnolias with Buderim Amateur Theatre Society, and has been part of numerous other productions, including A Marriage Has Been Arranged and The Wiz. Of performing in a farce, Holly says she loves the comedy – worthy of belly laughs – and the satisfaction of how well a scene turns out when the timing, pace and movement is exactly right.

Mary Woodall

Baroness de Champigny Mary takes the cake for being a Villanova Players veteran, having been a member for 46 years. Mary has appeared in around 50 plays and directed many more. Mary’s most recent role with VPs was as Ellen Dean in Wuthering Heights. One of Mary’s favourite roles was being given the honour of playing Mary MacKillop in Saint of the Southern Cross at Boondall, though she would also love to play the role of someone ‘young and glamorous’! For Mary, it’s been lots of fun working out the ‘business’ in a farce, and the most challenging part is the timing, timing, timing.

Samantha Yeates

Virginia / Clotilde This is Samantha’s first play with Villanova Players. Samantha has previously acted in and directed one-act plays for competitions with the Tarragindi Players, and has danced and sung in competitions with the Clarissa Hill Dance Centre. While Samantha would love to play Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, she also dreams of being in a Christmas pantomime! She once won best actress for playing a thunderstorm monster at the age of eleven, which involved being painted in silver body paint and saying ‘big, bad BOOM!’ eight times. Samantha says that it goes to show there is no such thing as a small part!

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