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Popular French Comedy to Be Performed at College

‘The Bald Soprano’ Performs for One Week Only
November 17, 2010
Press Release #10-205


St. Mary's College of Maryland's theater season continues with French playwright Eugène Ionesco's one-act comedy, The Bald Soprano. Produced by the Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies and directed by faculty member Mark A Rhoda, the play will be performed at 8 p.m. December 8-11, and at 2 p.m. December 12, in the Bruce Davis Theater in Montgomery Hall. Ticket prices are $4 or $6. To make reservations, call the Theater Box Office at 240-895-4243 or e-mail

Between 1950 and 1955, Ionesco wrote a series of one-act "nonsense" plays. These so-called "absurdist" plays, which Ionesco dubbed "anti-plays" or "comedies of comedies," capture darkly humorous post-war feelings of alienation and the impossibility and futility of communication.

The premise of Ionesco's comedy is simple. Everything reeks of English: from the determinedly middle-class English interior to the not-so-proper and overworked English maid, and the butler, who's as reliable as the always-malfunctioning grandfather clock, which repeatedly strikes 17 or 29 or 15 English strokes. In this world, middle-aged couple Mr. and Mrs. Smith hosts a young married couple, the Martins. Then, the fire chief arrives to douse a fire, and the get-together, while seemingly innocent at first blush, careens toward disaster.

"Describe The Bald Soprano?" director Rhoda laughed. "Well, to steal a line from that great 1950 movie, All About Eve, 'fasten your seatbelts, it's gonna be a bumpy night.' I partly chose to direct Ionesco's bizarre little play because it is a hilarious antidote and fitting complement to the verbal virtuosity of Noel Coward's Hay Fever," the comedy that recently ended at the college. "Unlike Coward's play," Rhoda said, "Ionesco sets out to show how human discourse devolves into platitudinous inanity and triviality.  Language, or more accurately, its nonsense, savagely betrays the banality and ferocity of our lives, to both laugh-out-loud and mock-tragic consequence."

St. Mary's College of Maryland, designated the Maryland state honors college in 1992, is ranked one of the best public liberal arts schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. More than 2,000 students attend the college, nestled on the St. Mary's River in Southern Maryland.