Theater comedia to invite audience interaction at Dunham Hall

“A Servant of Two Masters” opens this week and will involve humor-instilled moments through audience and cast interaction.

Pictured above the student cast of SIUE's production, "A Servant of Two Masters"

Directed by theater professor Chuck Harper, it will open Wed., October 15 at Dunham Hall and run through Sunday, October 19.  From Wednesday through Saturday shows will be at 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday, “A Servant of Two Masters” will take place at 2:00 p.m.

According to Harper, the play is about a servant who is unhappy with his master and decides to serve another at the same time. Harper added that the play revolves around the servant trying to keep both masters happy without letting them know the other exists, even though they are in love with and trying to find each other.

“A Servant of Two Masters” is a popular comedy from the 1700s written by Carlo Goldoni and adapted by Constance Congdon.

Harper said the genre revolved around troupes of actors who are like sit-com characters, stereotypical and with no depth: a witty servant, a cranky old man and two young lovers trying to find one another.

“It’s really stupid comedy,” Harper said. “The audience is pulled in a ridiculous world where the most important thing in the whole wide world is someone trying to get lunch.”

The situations the characters find themselves in, according to Harper, are over the top and the characters overreact to everything.

An example, according to Harper, is when two lovers find out they can’t get married.

“It’s the worst tragedy that’s ever happened in the history of the world,” Harper said. “For the young lovers that’s all they ever cared about.”

Harper added that the plot keeps putting them in absolutely ridiculous situations.

Harper said he found the audition process to be fun, especially in casting humorous actors outside of type casting.

“In comedia it really doesn’t matter if you can believably play [a role] but what matters is if you are funny,” Harper said. “In this case, it is really more important if you’re funny and if you have good comic instincts, you can play almost any role in this play.”

Senior theater major Josh Funneman plays the servant.

According to Harper, the play is a great opportunity for Funneman who is also a stand-up comedian because he was born to play that role: a goofy, wacky servant.

“This is what he loves best, and it really pushes at his comic skills,” Harper said.

Harper said he is looking forward to the cast interacting with the audience which is part of the play.

“So much of the play is given to audience, and there is so much you can rehearse pretending you’re talking to people who aren’t there,” Harper said. “At some point genuine human beings show up and the sort of communication and comic feedback will start.”

Harper said the play, written 300 years ago, still has much comic impact.

“It’s just amazing to me in a lot of ways. This is funny,” Harper said. “Our hope and all of our energy is being put towards bringing the humor we have found in the play and sharing it with the audience.”

Harper added that in “A Servant of Two Masters” there is no socially redeeming message or theme.

“When the night is over there is nothing you go home and think about,” Harper said. “It is purely silly escapist fun.”

For general admission, tickets are $12 for adults (18 and older) and $10 for seniors (65 and older), children (18 years and younger) and students (with a valid school I.D.) SIUE students with a valid I.D. get in free.

To obtain tickets or for more information, call the Fine Arts box office at 618-650-2774 or toll free at 1-888-328-5168, extension 2774 or visit the website

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