Adapted by Josiah Wallace
Lazzi: The original Italian Renaissance term for “a comic bit of action.”
Moliere: The greatest French comic playwright of all time.
Milking the stock character types and plot scenarios of the Italian Commedia del’Arte, Moliere found unprecedented popularity as a playwright and actor in 17th century France. Lazzi Moliere takes three of his short plays, blatantly mines their Commedia roots to create a piece of hilarity for everyone to enjoy.
This show was produced by Dordt College in 2016. Below you will find the first few pages of the script. Please contact Josiah Wallace for the complete script and royalty information.
META – Part 1
General hubbub as company members set up for the show. Some cast members are busy getting things ready, others are interacting with the audience as “performers.” Expressing concern for the viability of their company. Asking for a job. Asking people if they even know what commedia is. TONY is busy coordinating the set-up (bossy, and a bit absentminded). Shoos performers away telling them to get ready and finds himself talking to the audience.
(DS Center; motions to SM for Lights Up)
TONY: Well, well, ah, hello there, everyone. Sorry about the delay. I’m not one give excuses, but we had a bit of a mix-up. We flew into Sioux Falls and couldn’t find the TEA PASS KEY theatre.
(GUY plays cartoonish, sad “waa-waa-waa-waa” sound cue)
TONY: Thank you, Guy. Jimmy here insisted we had farther to travel and here we are finally in Sioux City.
(JIMMY, all the while trying to get TONY dressed for the show, whispers in TONY’S ear).
What’s that? We aren’t in Sioux City? Sioux what? Sioux Center. I see. The center of the Sioux. (Aside to JIMMY) Were we supposed to be in Sioux City? No. Alright. (Readdress audience) Seems as good a place as any to bring the great tradition of Commedia del’Arte to the Midwest. HA HA. (To self) Well its got to work. (To audience) Before we know it, (a try for a joke) it’ll be commedia del’ Sioux! (Laughs heartily/awkwardly) Oh, you are too kind. (To JIM) Jimmy, I think this is going to work.
(Signals for some sort of musical fanfare) Ah, the Commedia del’Arte. What, is commedia you ask? No, ask me. (After getting audience to ask this) Oh, you don’t know? Why it was only the most popular theatre performance style of the Renaissance – Hello! Everyone should know this stuff.
JIM: It’s just that. . .
JIM: Sir, your tie is loose in front.
TONY: Doesn’t matter.
JIM: (Moves to adjust tie; struggles) No, here, just let me adjust it a bit.
TONY: (Tries to get away) Ugh, you’re choking me, just let it be...it’s just . . .
JIM: Let me just comb…
TONY: Ouch! Are you trying to take off my ear?
JIM: Just got to get your part right. . .
TONY: Maybe I like it that way.
JIM: But it’s sticking up in the back.
TONY: Leave it. It doesn’t matter. They’ve already seen me, and good impressions are probably no longer possible.
JIM: At least, as a favor to me, let me shine your shoes, they’re all scuffed up.
JIM: (Takes Tony’s shoes off, pulls out a rag, and works on shining shoes)
TONY: Good Heavens… (collecting himself) Anyway… Commedia del’Arte! (To audience) It’s very simple plot lines used as a framework in which to perform a Lazzi. (To JIM) Oh, would you hurry up already!
JIM: (Keeps working on them).
TONY: (After waiting) That’s enough. (Makes a grab for his shoes)
JIM: (Keeps shoes out of TONY’S reach; exasperated) Please, a little patience.
TONY: (Calls to ALL ACTORS) I need a new assistant!
JIM: (Inspecting shoes) Do you drag your toes on the ground when you walk?
TONY: Do you intend to keep this up forever?
JIM: They are finished.
TONY: Then, give them to me!
JIM: (Hands shoes to TONY, fumbles, drops shoes) Ah! Now they’re all scuffed up again, I’ll just give them a couple more rubs to take off…
TONY: No you will not. (Takes the shoes, sits down to put them on)
JIM: (after a beat) Uh, Sir?
JIM: You didn’t finish the commedia tutorial.
TONY: (flabbergasted) Uh, well, yes. The schpeel. (to audience) just a . . .(finishing tying his shoes, fails to get one shoe tongue back inside) there we are (stands up)
Let me see. uh. (signals for fanfare) The Commedia del’Arte. What, is commedia del’Arte you ask? (pointing at the audience). What is commedia? (cursorily) you don’t know. It was the most popular theatre of the Renaissance. Ah, you already heard that.
(Clears throat for the schpeel) Commedia was the first “professional” theatre. It emerged in the towns of Italy and gained popularity as the church distanced itself from sponsoring religious drama during the Reformation. Sacred themes devolved into purely domestic and humorous ones populated by stock characters and slap stick comedy. You’ll notice that many of the characters are masked – they wear masks (couple actors show the masks) Commedia is about essence of character. Masks and strong physicality get at the essence of things. You’ll see some masters (masters walk across the stage), Some servants (servants walk across the stage), and of course: young people in the passionate throws of an eternal love (Lovers leap across the stage).
BOKGYUN: (Enters as CAPITANO) And Capitano!
TONY: No we don’t have a Capitano.
Scenario 1- (if audience laughs)
JIM: (to TONY) See, I think it’s working.
Scenario 2- (if audience doesn’t laugh)
JIM: I don’t think it’s working.
BOKGYUN: (turns to TONY) What’s that about money?
TONY: (To BOKGYUN) Uh, nothing. Nothing of concern. . . PLACES!! (To audience) We’ve prepared two pieces for you tonight based on classic Moliere texts. Who is Moliere you ask? (cut off audience before they can respond) Oh, just read about him in the program notes.
TONY: Commedia plot lines were simple: basically just a framework into which Lazzi could be inserted. What is a Lazzi? It’s a comic bit of action.
(Proceeds to have actors come out and demonstrate some lazzi)
HORACE: (Enters stage right, JIMMY trips him, and he flips over)
TONY: That, is a Lazzi.
BECKY: (Enters stage left, armed with a slap stick and hunting a fly, hits herself in the forehead with the slapstick and eats the dead fly)
TONY: That is a Lazzi.
CHAD & ELIZABETH: (Enter opposite sides, leap across the stage, ad libbing as lovers searching for each other. Slowly they back up towards each other until their backs bump into the other. They reach for each other’s hands several times, desperately hoping it is their true love. After three times, they turn and face each other, hands together, and with lots of googly eyes)
TONY: That’s a Lazzi. What is a Lazzi? (Audience should respond with the question) (Shakes shoe with tongue flapping) This is a Lazzi! (To JIM) Jimmy, you don’t know how to tie shoes. With that, I think you are ready for the first piece.
JIM: The Fountain (runs to fountain to exhibit it)
TONY: Oh yes, we are trying something a bit new tonight. During the show if you happen to want to show your appreciation for what we do. Feel free to offer a coin or two. Just throw them it in the fountain here.
(ACTORS appear in various stages of undress)
TONY: Just something new. Just so they can show their appreciation.
CHAD: What happens if someone is chuckin’ something in there and it hits me instead? What happens if they aim for me? (Picks out a couple people in the audience, points and grumbles at them).
TONY: Nothing to concern yourself with—get off the stage! Places, everyone! (Pushes CHAD off) (To audience) I want you all to be able to show just how much you appreciate the work we do. Yes, laughter is nice, applause is better, but actual money, that’s how you let a performer know that you’ve truly been touched. Say, why don’t we give it a try. Anyone? Spare a nickel? Maybe a dime? A quarter or two? How about one of those golden Sacajawea dollars?
(GUY plays cricket chirp sound)
TONY: Thank you, Guy.
(JIM pushes fountain across front)
TONY: Or, if you would like, just throw your credit card in the fountain. No? We’ll talk more about that option later. (If anyone throws anything JIM can go around and pick it up and put it in the fountain). Great! Looks like we are off to a great start. And now, without further ado: Del Dordte’s The Flying Doctor by Moliere…
(GUY plays the music too soon for the beginning of The Flying Doctor)
TONY: (waves GUY off) No, Guy, not yet. Okay, it’s more like loosely associated with Moliere’s original words and plotline, but Commediafied for extra smiles! (Exits)
THE FLYING DOCTOR
ACT I. SCENE I.——VALÈRE, SABINE, SGANARELLE.
(Lights come up on LUCILE and VALERE being dramatic lovers. SABINE comes for LUCILE to warn her that her father GORGUBIS and his servant GROS-RENE are coming. LUCILE and SABINE run inside house just before GORGIBUS and GROS-RENE enter the stage and enter the house. VALERE stays onstage)
VAL: (plucking petals off a daisy) She loves me… she loves me not… She loves me! Oh, no, no, no… she loves me… not! We shall be married… We shan’t be married… We shall be married, with lilacs and—(cut off by SABINE)
SAB: (Enter stage left, breathing heavily, trying to get words out) Gorgibus has decided to marry Lucile off to his servant!
VAL: (Collapses in despair) No! It’s just as I feared.
SAB: Lucile has been driven to madness. But, we’ve thought of an excellent scheme to prevent the marriage:
VAL: What is it?
SAB: Lucile pretends to be ill, and the foolish old man, who is easily deceived, has sent me to fetch the doctor. Could you not find some friend of yours, who would be on our side, to order the invalid to go into the country for a change of air? The old man will send Lucile to live in the pavilion, which is at the bottom of their garden. If you describe it exactly he’s sure to be convinced. It’s a red-roofed house with a white picket fence near a pond with ducklings. There, you will be able to marry her in secret; then let him and Villebrequin curse as much as they please.
(SGANARELLE enters stage left and begins trying to open the door; struggles comically)
VAL: But how will I find a doctor so suddenly who would risk so much to serve me? I’ve got to tell you, I don’t know a doctor who would do this.
(VAL and SAB pace around the stage thinking; meanwhile SGAN collapses against door, opening it. While rejoicing, he gets his head caught in the door)
SAB: I think I’ve got it! Why don't you have your servant dress up as a doctor? There’s no one easier to trick than that old man.
VAL: But Sganarelle is a blockhead who will spoil everything. Of course, I don’t have anyone else. We must make use of him!
SAB: I’ll leave it in your hands. I need to return home and tell the old man the doctor has been called. (Exit stage left)
ACT I. SCENE II——VALÈRE, SGANARELLE.
VAL: Ah! My poor Sganarelle, I need you…(releases SGAN from door) I need you to help me with most important business, but I don’t know if you can do what is necessary…
SGAN: What can’t I do, sir? I can do any important business you ask of me, particularly in things of great consequence: for instance, send me to the market to fetch a stick of butter; I can remove the lent from your bellybutton; or have me massage (audience member’s) calves with banana peels. Send me on any one of these great ventures, and then you will be able to judge me of my worth. Why, I, uh (trying to think of an achievement) I, um… Why, I have even been practicing opening doors!
VAL: No, I don’t need you to do any of these things. I want you to be a doctor for the day.
SGAN: (flabbergasted) Me? A doctor! Sir! No, I couldn’t. I’m a servant, I am not a doctor. I wouldn’t have the foggiest notion of how to diagnose an ailment. Sir, is this some sort of joke?
VAL: Not at all. If you are willing to try, I will give you (checks fountain for funds) ten pistoles.
SGAN: Ah! Ten pistoles; well then, I won't say I am not a doctor, I mean, sir, maybe I just misspoke. Supposing I was a doctor, where would I need to present myself as a doctor?
VAL: To the old man Gorgibus, to see his daughter who is ill, you would examine her and . . .
SGAN: Prescribe a remedy or two? Perhaps some bloodletting, or maybe an enema would do the trick, or I could remove one of her toes with a knife!
VAL: (To audience) I’m beginning to think this isn’t such a good idea.
SGAN: Oh, now that I’m on the job I can think of a whole swath of remedies that could do the trick. . . (Begins sing-song chant, dancing around the stage) Bloodletting, enema, amputations! Bloodletting, enema, amputations! Bloodletting, enema, amputations!
VAL: (To audience) What do you think? He doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of this.
SGAN: Ah! Have no fear, Sir. I can kill anybody as well as any doctor in the town. The proverb usually is, "after death comes the doctor," but you will see that if I have anything to do with it, it will be, "after the doctor comes death!"
VAL: (Aside) Oh, maybe I am hoping for too much here…
SGAN: But, what it I can’t convince him? It will be difficult to play a doctor; and if I don’t do it right…?
VAL: It will be easily done. Gorgibus is a simpleton, a blockhead, he will believe everything you say - provided you speak to him of the Hippocratic Oath, or Dr. Oz, or the like. Speak with confidence and everything will work out.
SGAN: You mean that I shall have to speak of philosophy, mathematics, and Television pseudo medicine? I can do that; if he is as easily deceived as you say.
VAL: It is imperative that you tell him she will be healed if she is sent to a red-roofed house with a white picket fence near a pond with ducklings.
SGAN: Got it! I shall have an answer for everything. (Pauses, thinking about the instructions) Pond with alligators! I’m off to prepare! (Opens door) Here, Sir. (Pulls out doctors bag, tosses to VAL, who holds bag and catches things as SGAN chucks various items at him)
SGAN: What do we have here? I shall need one of these (tosses random object)
VAL: (catches item with bag) Well, I can’t imagine why…
SGAN: Oh, a tuber!
VAL: Ah, ok?
SGAN: Eh, not a tuber, but I think will do.
VAL: What, is this a soup?
SGAN: Ah, a lime! To keep away the scurvy.
VAL: Oh, delicious.
SGAN: (tosses small rag doll) Ah ha!
VAL: (pulls doll back out of bag) Oh, and some voo-doo, I see?
SGAN: I shall need my doctor’s gown! (busies himself with putting on his doctor’s gown and headlamp)
VAL: (Items continue to be tossed out of the doorway; confusedly chases them down with bag)
SGAN: Well, Sir, I believe I have everything I need, but first I shall require my diploma, that is, my ten pistoles.
VAL: (goes to fountain and picks out a few coins)
SGAN: Excellent, she shall be dead immediately! (Exit stage left)
VAL: Oh, no! (Moan of nervous anguish followed by a dramatic exit through the stage left house door)
For complete script contact Josiah directly