Theatrical Comedy "School For Scandal" Opens Nov. 30

Nov 20, 2006

Things haven't changed a lot since the first performance of Richard Sheridan's The School for Scandal in the late eighteenth century. Surrounded by war and revolution, the smart set of London still devoted considerable energy to gossip, tabloid journalism, and bedroom intrigue.

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL, Sheridan’s comedy of gossip, wit and mayhem, comes to the Humboldt State University Gist Hall stage on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m., November 30 through December 2, and December 7 through 9. Tickets are $10 general, $8 students/seniors, limited free seats to HSU students. For more information, call the HSU ticket office, (707) 826-3928, or visit

The production is directed by Clint Rebik and is a production of the HSU Department of Theatre, Film & Dance.

“It’s a classic comedy of the English stage, complete with fancy costumes, witty dialogue and physical comedy,” says Rebik. “But it concerns a society wrapped up in gossip and the doings of other people, where social status and power depends on who controls what’s being said and how it’s being portrayed. We’re not hammering at the contemporary relevance in our production, but audiences aren’t going to have a problem seeing it.”

Colorful characters with names like Lady Teazle, Sir Oliver Surface, Sir Backbite and Lady Sneerwell are outrageous gossips and victims of gossip, in a comic story filled with complications, ironies, surprises and schemes that go horribly wrong, This prototype of situation comedy also reveals many of the same guilty pleasures and petty obsessions we know today.

The HSU production has moved the period slightly to the 1820s, to allow for more sumptuous and colorful costumes. “We’ve also gender-bent a couple of characters,” Rebik says, “which makes it more interesting when in the play one has to impersonate another character.”

“We have a cast of 20, many of whom are HSU theatre majors, but also actors from the community, and some doing theatre for the first time. For others, it’s a passion they’ve pursued for some time, outside their job or field of study.”

The School for Scandal has delighted audiences around the world for more than two centuries. Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh, Ralph Richardson and John Geilgud are a few of the famous actors who played it. (It was the first play in which Olivier and Leigh appeared together.) It remains a comic classic, with a combination of wit and slapstick, irony and farce—and with a few observations to make on how we live our lives, what we do versus what we say, and what true virtue might turn out to be.