Posted August 28, 2020

Temple Theaters launches fall digital season with “The Country Wife”

The play was originally scheduled to be performed in person last spring semester.

Black and white images of a fan and a corset, part of the poster for "The Country Wife."
Photography By: 
Courtesy of Jason Lindner
A detail from the poster for the Temple Theaters production of "The Country Wife," which will be live streamed on August 28 and 29th.

The old show business adage is “the show must go on.” That’s what Temple Theaters intends for The Country Wife: a production postponed by the coronavirus pandemic, but finally making its way to audiences virtually this week as the opening play of the fall digital season.

Banned for nearly 200 years because of its risqué subject matter—the play centers on a rake who seduces married women—William Wycherley’s play is now acknowledged as a classic of Restoration comedy, a style that favors clever dialogue and complicated plots. 

Temple Theaters’ production, directed by Brandon McShaffrey, assistant professor at the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts, is based on a new adaptation by Rachel Atkins, which aims to modernize the play’s themes, while showcasing the wit and style of Wycherley’s language.

The production was originally scheduled to be performed in person this past spring. Then the pandemic hit, forcing the cast and crew to reinvent their work for digital staging.

The Country Wife will be streamed live this week for free, though the number of viewers is limited and reservations are required. Everyone who reserves will receive a link to a private YouTube page where they can watch a performance. 

All the original cast will be appearing live, although they won’t be in the same room. Most of them are performing from home and will be wearing an approximation of costuming provided by Temple Theater’s costume shop. 

“It’s very tricky for Restoration comedy that relies a great deal on visual and physical comedy to work,” said Jason Lindner, assistant director of marketing and communications at the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts. “Actors will be required to express the comedy more effectively through vocal inflections and with the classically clever text of Wycherley.”

Lindner feels it’s important to get the production in front of an audience. “It’s a great morale boost to say that we are still here and able to give the students in this show a chance to perform,” he said. 

The Country Wife shut down practically on the eve of its originally scheduled performance, so those students who were working on it were particularly upset to have this opportunity taken away. Though this will not replace a physically live performance, it’s a lovely way to be able to show off the talents of our amazing students.”

“The Country Wife” will be performed August 28 and 29. To reserve a spot, email theater@temple.edu and include the date of the performance you would like to watch.