Government Inspector – Director’s Notes – curious arts

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Government Inspector – Director’s Notes by Ron Jenkins

“Don’t blame the mirror if your face is lopsided.” – Nikolai Gogol

I first read the Government Inspector in 1983 at Cape Breton University when I was taking my undergraduate degree with a major in Political Science. I had no intention of going into theatre at all. I was going to finish my B.A. and then go to Law School. Or so I thought. I had only been in one play, Hamlet. I didn’t actually play Hamlet. I played Fortinbras because the actor who was supposed to play Fortinbras had contracted mononucleosis and couldn’t do it. So my English Professor, Liz Boardmore, roped me or semi-sort of roped me into playing the part because she liked the way I had read in class. Or that’s what she told me. Anyway, I did the part and I was hooked. On theatre. The first one is always free.

I started spending more time at the theatre, acting and reading plays, talking about the theatre, talking about how art could change the world and how I wanted to be a part of that. I was consumed and the thoughts of Law School started to dim. I was still taking all these excellent Political Science classes but I wasn’t nearly as interested. I still had to write papers and keep up with my reading but I mostly just wanted to read plays.

So. We have to write a paper about corruption and it is here that I first came into contact with Gogol’s masterpiece, Government Inspector. I had mentioned to Liz that I had this paper due and how I wasn’t that interested in Political Science anymore, and that I was thinking about changing my major and how I just wanted to read plays. She suggested I read this excellent play that dealt with corruption in Russia in the early 1800’s called Government Inspector. So I did. And for that I am eternally grateful.

I love this play as much as I did when I first read it in 1983. It is a sharp, biting, funny, and wicked satire about corruption, bribery, and of the hollow longing for life in St. Petersburg. It is an indictment and love letter simultaneously to the country and the people Gogol loved. And I am thrilled to have the opportunity to finally direct it. Thank you to Kate Weiss and the Department of Drama for inviting me. I have had an incredible time over the last five weeks working with these incredible students. I hope you enjoy the show as much as I’ve had directing it.

I did end up writing the paper. Scored very high. But I didn’t go to Law School.

Thank you,

Ron Jenkins

Headshot of Ron Jenkins

Government Inspector runs February 9 – 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Timms Centre for the Arts (87 Avenue & 112 Street). For the full creative team, show dates and ticket details, see

Presenter: U of A Studio Theatre
Event Title: Government Inspector
Dates: February 9 – 18, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinee Thursday, February 16 at 12:30 p.m.
Venue: Timms Centre for the Arts, University of Alberta
Single show tickets: $12 student, $25 adult, $22 senior, available online now and at the Timms Centre box office one hour before each performance.

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