The Scams of Scapin, an adaptation of Moliere's comedy Scapin, is a slapstick farce set in the seaport city of Naples.
"The setting could not be better," said Chris O'Connor, the theater's founder and artistic director.
The 90-minute performance will be held at the amphitheater at Frank Sinatra Park, with the Hudson River and New York Skyline as a backdrop.
Moliere's play centers around the actions of Scapin, a rascal servant, who swindles money from misers so that their sons can use it to be with the women they love.
The production will be directed by veteran stage director Jeff Steitzer, who has put on over 150 plays in his 31-year career.
Hoboken resident Jenny Levison, a playwright who has worked as both a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker during her career, adapted the play directly from Moliere's original French version.
"I didn't want to be influenced by other translations," said Levinson. "I wanted to make it relevant in a contemporary setting by emphasizing the language, rhythm, and humor of the play."
One such modification she made was to create a play within a play, having the traveling troop of actors step out of the character to explain some of the complex aspects of the comedy.
The nine professional actors in the troop are members of the Actor's Equity Association [AEA], a labor union that represents over 45,000 actors and stage managers throughout the country. Five of these actors are from Hudson County.
One man's vision
After moving to Hoboken from Seattle in 1997 to pursue an acting career in Manhattan, Mile Square's founder Chris O'Connor became frustrated with freelancing and "wanted more."
It was at this time that O'Conner decided to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts at Rutger's Mason Gross School of the Arts, where he was exposed to stage direction. Within a month, O'Connor conceived of the Mile Square Theatre.
With over 40 years of acting experience under his belt, the 51-year-old O'Connor ventured into stage direction in 2002 by establishing the Mile Square Theater in Hoboken.
"I wanted to bring quality theater to the community, to anyone who could get down here to see it," said O'Connor, who currently uses space provided by the Rue School at 301 Grand St. to practice for the upcoming performance.
Although the group does not have a permanent theater, O'Connor hopes to expand operations and grow into a regional theater company based in Hoboken.
"The city needs a performing space," said O'Connor. "Having a regional theater in Hoboken will not only do a lot for the cultural fabric of the city, but it also brings in cultural tourists from outside, and that helps local business."
In addition to its own performances, MST has also offered local students an opportunity to learn about acting through several workshops given at the Hoboken Historical Museum over the past few years.
In November of 2005, the company produced an adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello at Hoboken High School.
Free and funded
The total cost to put on the production is about $28,000, which will include a 20- by 16-foot stage that extends only five inches off the ground and lighting equipment and a sound set.
The actors will be sporting headsets so that they can compete with the sounds of boats, airplanes, pedestrians, and whatever else might distract the audience.
The Hudson County Office of Cultural Affairs, PSE&G and private donations are sponsoring the play.
The Scams of Scapin will be presented at the amphitheater at Frank Sinatra Park beginning on Wednesday Aug. 16 at 8 p.m. and continue Aug. 18, 19, 20, 23, 25, 26, and 27. Admission is free of charge. For more information about the show or to learn more about The Mile Square Theatre Company, log onto www.milesquaretheatre.org or call (201) 716-3044.
Michael Mullins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.