World Premiere of Disguises Presents Life of Beaumarchais as Figaro-Worthy Comedy | Playbill

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News World Premiere of Disguises Presents Life of Beaumarchais as Figaro-Worthy Comedy Disguises, a comic historical play about the 18th century French writer Beaumarchais, gets its world premiere at Alabama Shakespeare Festival May 23-June 27.

The new play, directed by Kent Thompson, is part of ASF's Southern Writers' Project. Warner "unmasks the man who wrote the comedies The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, Pierre-Augustin de Beaumarchais," according to the announcement. "Part scoundrel, part genius, Beaumarchais (played by Sam Gregory) was a man of many talents: watchmaker, musician, spy, courtier, patriot, and in his spare time, a playwright." Opening is May 27.

Warner, whose writing includes "Mists of Avalon" and TNT's "Caesar," said his interest in Beaumarchais stemmed from their common passion for writing.

"What I love about Beaumarchais is that he lived a life of danger and invention and passion and, between revolutionary coups of which he was both cause and victim, wrote plays for his own amusement," Warner said in notes. "One imagines him to have been great company. I wanted to spend an evening with him, and this play was a way of doing that."

Disguises had originally been written as a radio drama for BBC radio, where it was nominated for both Best Comedy and Best Drama awards.  "It chronicles the extraordinary life of the commoner Pierre-Augustin Caron who inherited the dignified title of Beaumarchais through somewhat questionable means and cleverly worked his way to the French aristocracy precisely at the moment in history when aristocrats had been involuntarily relinquished of their nobility."

Along the way he encounters such notable characters as Benjamin Franklin (played by Chris Mixon) and Marie Antoinette (played by Kathleen McCall), "cannily shifting allegiances from woman to woman and from nation to nation." The play moves briskly through the late 18th century and the French Revolution — what Warner calls "probably the single most interesting socio-economic event in the history of mankind."  He further observed, "The French Revolution offers us a picture of ideals in action, of the thing we dream of but don't dare to hope for coming to life before our eyes, and that is, the greater number saying to the privileged few, 'Stop it Now.'"

Disguises runs in repertory May 23-June 27.  It is featured during the 2nd Annual Southern Writers' Project Festival of New Plays, June 4-6.

Disguises represents the "third strand" of the Southern Writers' Project: plays that explore Shakespeare and the Classics.

The cast also includes Philip Pleasants, Rodney Clark, Greta Lambert, Paul Hebron, James Denvil, Christian Rummel, Julia Watt, Suzanne Curtis, Michael Bakkensen, Thomas Ward, Libby George, Chris Qualls, Frederick Snyder and Antony Hagopian.

Designers are Peter Harrison (scenic), Beth Novak (costume), Rachel Budin (lighting), Don Tindall (sound). Gregg Coffin composes music and music-directs.

For more information, call the ASF box office toll free at (800) 841-4ASF or visit


The Alabama Shakespeare Festival "is among the largest Shakespeare theatres in the world. Designated as The State Theatre of Alabama, ASF has been located in Montgomery since 1985 when it moved from Anniston as a result of Mr. and Mrs. Wynton M. Blount's gift of a performing arts complex set in the 250-acre Wynton M. Blount Cultural Park."


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