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Madcap mayhem hits Folsom stage with ‘King Stag’

Folsom Lake Entertainer
By: Eileen Wilson, Folsom Lake Entertainer
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To all comedy lovers, prepare to see humor taken to a whole new level. When Falcon’s Eye Theatre at Folsom Lake College opens their new show, “The King Stag,” theater lovers won’t know what hit them. That’s because Folsom Lake College’s Theatre Arts Professor and Producing Artistic Director, David Harris, is bringing an unusual form, commedia dell’arte, to the stage. While some theater lovers may not be familiar with the term, the theater style is anything but new. Originally developed in Italy, the style includes masks, and each character represents an emotion like sadness, gaiety, confusion, or even mockery — an over-the-top style that includes madcap mayhem and general silliness. The theatrical style is a special challenge for actors because of its physicality and humor. That’s why Harris hired Director Jamie Van Camp, whom he said is a master of commedia as well as an amazing actor. Van Camp spent years studying both commedia at a small school in the far reaches of Arcata in Northern California, and mime, acrobatics and ensemble-based theater in Vancouver. “I have a Masters of Fine Arts from Dell’arte International, where I studied melodrama, clowning and directing,” Van Camp said. “I was always inspired by Charlie Chaplin, and my friends and I were always goofing, always looking for a reason to goof off and have lots of fun growing up.” Van Camp said commedia dell’arte translates to comedy of the arts, or the human comedy. “The characters really interact with the audience. It’s about competing to get the audience to laugh,” he said. “It’s more about the audience and performers interacting with each other, than about the story itself.” But of course, there is a story to be told, and the story, written by Carlo Gozzi, and adapted by Shelley Berc and Andrei Belgrader, is a story that can be described as a magical fantasy, where men become creatures and creatures become men. The show will include deceit, lies, magic and murder – a sort of 18th Century fairy tale — but with a little dark edginess. Students at Folsom Lake College will act out the comedy. “The performers have been working hard — they’re really going for it. The art form is very new to this area,” Van Camp said. “I’ve been a freelance director in Toronto, Norway and elsewhere, but I am so excited to direct something here, where I grew up.” Harris is also excited to bring the art form to students and the community. “Commedia is one of the most important forms — it gives the classic clownish style— very exaggerated movements, and great characterization,” Harris said. “It’s a beautiful form. The actors work with stylized masks, and the show has the kind of humor that we don’t often allow ourselves to experience. An over-the-top, hugely exaggerated style. The show is hilarious.” * * * KNOW AND GO What: The King Stag presented by Falcon’s Eye Theatre When: 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m., Sunday, April 27 through May 13, and 2 p.m., Saturday, May 5 and 8 p.m., Thursday, May 10 Where: Folsom Lake College Department of Theatre Arts, Three Stages, 10 College Parkway, Folsom Cost: $10 students and seniors, $15 general admission Information: Falconseyetheatre.com