Movement in Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear”

By Dr. Pamela Washington

Two Actors at "A Flea in Her Ear" rehearsal.

Photography by Michael Washington

The bedroom farce, as a genre, requires slamming doors, people appearing and disappearing through them, and quite a bit of physical confusion.  The mechanics of misunderstanding are starting to come together in the blocking of the UCO Theatre Arts Department’s first season offering, “A Flea in Her Ear.”  A French farce by Georges Feydeau, the play was originally set in the early 20th century, in an old French apartment building with a traditional multi-room, two story floorplan.  How has Greg Leaming adapted this play’s setting to 1968 Scarsdale, New York, and more importantly how has the Theatre Design Team adapted two sets with a total of nine doors—yes nine much used doors—to the Mitchell Hall stage? The tape on the floor during a recent blocking rehearsal only partly tells the story. Watching these young actors figure out which door to go through when—well, the laughter has already started!

Director Daisy Folsom, movement coach Emily Heugatter, and Meisner coach Kato Buss are working as a team to help students learn the physical movement that will be necessary to perfect the comedy of this farce. Faydeau is NOT easy to stage. Besides the on-stage movement, our main character has to exit through one door, change costumes, and re-enter the stage through a different door as a different character in the matter of a few beats (Oh, did I forget to tell you the main character has a double?) Mathew Stuttgen has taken on the challenge of overseeing the building of two sets, an elegant home and a sleazy hotel, which will have to be solid enough that actors can slam the doors (without the walls shaking), but light enough that they can be moved quickly between acts.

Like a chess master, Feydeau will move his characters around this confusing game board of a set to build the interior tension of the play—the tension between reality and the unreality of the situation in which the characters find themselves. Stay tuned for more insight into “Flea” and the UCO Theatre Arts Department production. Mark your calendars, performances are October 13th_16th.

Actors at "A Flea in Her Ear" rehearsal

Photography by Michael Washington