Mitchell Cushman, Director, The School for Scandal

Odd’s life, nephew, allow others to know something too!
– Mr. Crabtree

The world that Richard Brinsley Sheridan offers us in The School for Scandal is one of competitive misinformation—a society made up of intrigue-hungry narcissists, frantic to tear one another down in order to momentarily numb the monotony of their existence.

Sheridan’s real achievement, however, was to craft a comedy that would so indelibly stand the test of time. Once one is able to weed-whack through the overgrowth of exposition in the play’s first scene, the script’s taught social situations and cutting one-liners emerge as genuinely juicy.

BFA Actor Billy Boyd

BFA Acting student and School for Scandal cast member Billy Boyd examines the flow chart mapping out the intricate relationships and social standings between the characters.

It’s rare, I think, to find a comedy in the classical theatre canon in which the comedy genuinely lands, not as an intellectual exercise, but as searing topical satire. And that’s because—unlike ladies’ fans and folding screens—narcissism, gossip and small acts of social cruelty have never gone out of fashion.

Rehearsing The School for Scandal

The BFA Actors rehearse a scene from The School for Scandal. Pictured seated are designers Lee Livingstone (lighting) and Robert Shannon (sets, costumes, props).

Sneerwell, Candour, Backbite and Crabtree sling the mud that they do because they are desperate to attract followers. Just imagine if they were able to employ hashtags, memes and Google analytics in their quest to trend. Thanks to the expediency and anonymity provided by social media, it is chilling just how easy it has become for us to malign and dehumanize one another, without ever having to look one’s victim in the face.

And so with that in mind, we offer you a School for Scandal as envisioned by Generation Z; a production set in 18th century period, but as performed by the graduating class of a fictitious private high school in 2018—The Ariel Winslow Academy for the Arts.

On the subject of school, getting to work with this exceptional group of theatre students has been a true privilege, and something of a homecoming for me. I had the benefit of receiving my MFA in Directing from the U of A back in 2011. It is an honour to have been invited back, and to continue to engage with one of the leading and most vital drama departments in the country.

~Mitchell Cushman

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

A graduate of the University of Alberta MFA Directing program (Class of 2011), Mitchell Cushman is the 2018 Mary Mooney Distinguished Visiting Artist. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Outside the March, and is the recipient of the Siminovitch Protégé Award, Two Dora Awards for Best Production, and the Toronto Theatre Critics Award for Best Director.

THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
March 29 – April 7, 2018
Timms Centre for the Arts
Information and Tickets

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