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Inside “The Coward”

By Kevin Yu ’18

For the theatre program’s 2017 spring comedy, Mr. Canavese is directing a performance of The Coward, written by New York playwright Nick Jones. The play is set to debut this Friday, May 12th. The Coward, set in England during the 1790s, follows a young man who is challenged to a duel and hires a criminal to fight on his behalf.

“I chose [to put it on]. I actually found it in New York. I was out there seeing plays when I went into the drama bookshop and, while browsing the selves, I found this play,” Mr. Canavese said. “I read it and thought it was really funny and would make a good play for Bellarmine, with several good roles for guys.”

Each season, the director chooses what to perform, and the mantle of directors rotates between Mr. Canavese, Mr. Marcel, and Mr. Lum. However, each director must take every part of putting on a play into consideration. In addition to having many roles for men, “The Coward” also strikes Mr. Canavese as very relevant.

“It’s a play that satirizes social codes and the things that people agree to without good reason. It also functions as a kind of satire for modern American gun mania, because it is about how many of these characters love the idea of picking up a gun and facing up each other,” Mr. Canavese said. “The broader theme of the show is masculinity. Although the main character wants to be a proper young man and is afraid of being called a coward, from his perspective, his reluctance to fight is rational. It’s a matter of perspective. Some people believe in 2017 America that not choosing to fight is cowardice and others consider it a countercultural act of bravery to stand for a different kind of ideal of peacefulness.”

On top of its satirical qualities, Mr. Canavese believes the play hits upon many abstract concepts and leave the audience with much to think about. “I think that in an educational institution it is good to do a show that does not just test the skills of the actors and the technicians but also provides something a little meatier to chew on or think about to the audience, something that might spark discussion,” says Mr. Canavese. He wishes to put on plays that inspire discussion and thought, although he also states that less “meaty” comedies have a place in theater as well.

In regard to the production as a whole, Mr. Canavese stated, “I’m looking forward to tackling the play. We have great designers, a great cast, and a great crew. I’m excited to put them to work.”

The play opens this Friday and runs through Saturday, May 20. Tickets are available here.

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