Pants on Fire: Rena Strober on The Liar

I come from a very New York Jewish family where my relatives often ask things like

“Rena, are the phones broken in LA? Is that why you can’t call me back? Was there an earthquake? ARE YOU DEAD? I don’t know what I did to deserve this.”

Needless to say I’ve become very good at lying.

“You’re never going to believe this mom, but THE Stephen Spielberg had to turn off all the phones for 5 days so he could film his upcoming movie. It’s another Holocaust story! (That always works)

Because of this new found talent of mine, I was intrigued when Deirdre Murphy asked me to write a blog about the upcoming ClassicsFest 2012 reading of  The Liar by Corneille, adapted by David Ives. I’m not going to… lie and say I’d heard of this play, but neither had Ives when he was asked to translate the original Corneille piece.  More on that later.

I set up a meeting with Danielle K. Jones who initiated the piece. (by ‘meeting’ I mean going to the Republic of Pie)  Danielle showed up looking ever so sexy-chic in a Battle Star Galactica T-shirt and a leather bracelet that I intend on borrowing.

Danielle blushed from the moment we sat down. No, she was not gaga over my irresistible charm, or the berry tea,  she was actually moved to blush over talking about THE LIAR!

She exclaims that the play is “Clever & brilliant’  and that she “wants to take classics and make them accessible to everyone.  Ives took the pentameter and in his own way made it into a ‘funny shticky comedy. Made it modern!”

Ives agrees with Danielle in his introduction stating

“…because the point is not to carry over sentences from one language to another, but to produce a credible, speakable, playable, produceable play for today no matter what’s in the original.”

Listening to her enthusiasm was inspiring.  Who knew that this French comedy could illicit such excitement?

Not only is Danielle looking forward to bringing this modern classic to life, but fellow cast member Brooke Bastinelli has her own sexy reasons for diving into this French world;

“I am most excited about playing a lively French character. My dear friend just moved to Paris and I very much want to visit. Needless to say, France is often on my mind.”

I’m hoping Brooke has no problem with me joining her on this trip.

Before you go update your Facebook status (about going to see The Liar) I want to go back to something I mentioned in the beginning. In the Introduction for The Liar, David Ives tells the reader a little about his experience with the translation.  I admire his honesty, humor and excitement for this play. He and Danielle would really made a great couple. Let me share a little of Ives with you;

When my agent called and asked if I’d be interested in translating Corneille’s The Liar for the Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, I had never heard of the play. Nor had he.

In any case: “Send the script along,” I told my agent. “I’ll take a look at it.”

He sent, I looked, and several hours later, with the help of a fat French dictionary, I found myself astonished. Exhilarated. Giddy. For, lying on the desk before me, was one of the world’s great comedies. I felt as if some lost Shakespeare festival comedy on the order of Twelfth Night or Much Ado about Nothing had been found. This particular Shakespeare comedy was unfortunately locked away in French (the French have a way of doing things like that), but I could remedy that. The prospect of Englishing this play made me feel like Ronald Colman distantly sighting Shangri-La.

Everything about it spoke to me. The rippling language. The rich simplicity of the premise. The gorgeousness of the set pieces. The seeming insouciance of the treatment alongside the classical rigor of the plotting. The way the play’s wide understanding and humanity was nicely seasoned with several large pinches of social satire. The Liar is one of those plays that seem to be made out of almost nothing, yet end up being about so much. The Importance of Being Earnest comes to mind, and Hay Fever.

It’s one of those plays that are both a view on our world and their own separate world, one that we would happily inhabit.

I mean, does it get any more exciting than that?!

Personally, I am looking forward to the incredible cast that Danielle has assembled and watching the magic that is The Liar. It is full of humor, pentameter, lies, love, truth and TWINS! I can’t imagine a better night out at the theater.

As a new member of the Antaeus Academy, I am in awe of the passion and dedication that the people of this company have. And yes, I also love the snacks that I usually find in the communal kitchen at the theater. I owe someone a few handful of M&Ms.

And in the words of David Ives;

“The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, as refracted in a theatrical fun-house mirror. Welcome to The Liar.”

Antaeus Academy Member, Rena Strober, shares her first impressions of David Ives’ version of The Liar, next up in ClassicsFest 2012.  The project is directed by Frank Dwyer.  Tickets are now on sale.