The Pittsburg State University Theatre took audiences into an ancient fairy tale world with their production of “The King Stag” Oct. 18-20. The theater company’s presentation of Carlo Gozzi’s “The King Stag,” was an original adaptation of a popular Italian fairy tale with roots that are lost in the mists of time.
“The story is faithful to the original fairy tale,” said Megan Westhoff, the director of the production who, along with Cynthia Allan, wrote the adaptation. “It is a fairy tale that has been around so long that we know Shakespeare would have seen it performed by the Italian theater companies that traveled through England during the Renaissance. Its themes of honesty, loyalty, true love, the importance of good character and triumph of good over evil are still important today.”
In the fairy tale, Deramo, the king of Serendippo, is searching for a wife when a great magician grants him two mysterious secrets: one that helps him find his true love and one that reveals evil and disloyal citizens. The fairy tale incorporates fantasy and fun, including a statue that comes to life, an acrobatic bear, enchanted stags and a talking parrot.
“Megan worked hard to keep the spirit and magic of the original tale alive in this adaptation,” said Allan. “It was a privilege to work with her on the project.”
The production featured a cast of 12 actors performing in the style of the Italian street theater known as Commedia dell’Arte. According to Westhoff, this form of performance, known today simply as commedia, influenced all of the playwrights of the Renaissance and shaped much of the entertainment we know today as vaudeville, slapstick, television sitcoms and modern improvisational comedy.
A number of artists contributed their talents to the production. Those included Lisa Quinteros, costume design; Doug Bennett, scenic design; Linden Little, lighting design; and Jeanine Kunshek and Jason Huffman, sound design. Also under the direction of Westoff, the production featured mask design and fabrication by a group of students including Micah Black, Daniel Key, Wayne King, Taylor Patterson, Logan Qualls and Elle Walker.
In conjunction with the production, the Pitt State Theatre collected books for children at the Children’s Advocacy Center.