When the classic and the contemporary collide: The Belle’s Stratagem


Oct.28.AL.BellesStratagemGet ready for a night of laughter and fun with the players of the Dramatic Arts department at Brock University.  This November, the Dramatic Arts department is putting on the The Belle’s Stratagem by Hannah Cowley in the Sean O’Sullivan Theatre.

The Belle’s Stratagem is a comedy from the late 1700s that revolves around the romantic relationships of two couples, Letitia Hardy and Doricourt, as well as Sir George Touchwood and Lady Frances Touchwood. It is set in 1780s London and begins with Ms. Hardy being promised to Doricourt, whom she hasn’t seen since she was a child, and the newly married Touchwood’s who are plagued with spiteful plots and jealousy.  Letitia Hardy, having been promised to Doricourt but not having seen him in years, plans to enchant him. To do so, she employs her capacities for wit and charm. However, her plan backfires as she finds herself falling deeply in love with him while he still remains unmoved by her.

The Touchwoods are newly married but Sir George Touchwood is filled with jealousy for his wife, a lovely woman from the country. He fears that his wife will be corrupted by the fashionable life in which they now live. This leads to plots involving acquaintances of Sir Touchwood to turn his wife into a ‘fine’ lady of the fashionable life in order to spite the fearful Sir Touchwood.

The Brock production of the play is directed by Gyllian Raby with the help of Nicolas Leno, Scenographer Kelly Wolf and the rest of the mainstage production team. The team has been working on the play since the spring and are excited for the long awaited outcome. Unlike the original production, which is set in 18th century London, this version will be held in modern day Toronto with the characters being transformed into the super-rich kids of Yonge and Bloor, as well as the rappers and spoken-word artists of the area.

“We wanted to do a feminist play, so we picked The Belle’s Stratagem and updated to kind of expose and satirize how it was still extremely sexist,” Leno described.  By moving the story to modern day Canadian society the play is able to mock romance, the city, and other first world problems which the original version couldn’t. In making these changes in the setting, they hope to be able to not only relate better to the audience, but also to engage in a more provocative show than the original would have allowed. It will now use themes of consumerism, superficiality, social media addiction, privilege and desire to inspire a relational connection to the audience.

On top of all these major changes to the play, there is an active social media campaign promoting the play in hopes of not only reaching and attracting a wider audience, but to better connect with the community as a whole. This campaign includes social media outlets such as Twitter (@Racketlife), YouTube (Racketlife), Instagram (@Racketlife), and an online blog which can be reached at keepingupwithmrsracket.com. There will also be a QR code on the posters which the audience can scan to enter into the characters’ designer world.

The show will be performed on Nov. 13, 14, and 15 at 7:30 p.m.  along with a matinee at 11:30 a.m. on Nov 14. Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors and students, $12 for groups and $5 for the eyeGo high school program.They are available from the Centre for the Arts box office, which can be reached by phone at 905.688.5550 ext. 3257, or you can visit the website at arts.brocku.ca

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