Fine Arts THEATRE Track

La Ronde

Program (PDF file)

From The Hampden-Sydney Tiger, February 13, 1998

The Hampden-Sydney College Department of

Fine Arts and the Jongleurs present:


La Ronde


Arthur Schnitzler

Directed by Shirley Kagan

Johns Auditorium


Thursday, Friday and Saturday February 26, 27 & 28.


All shows will start at 8:00 pm.


Hampden-Sydney Department of Fine Arts and the Jongleurs are proud to present this Spring?s production of Arthur Schnitzler?s La Ronde.  The play, a frank examination of love and relationships, provides a fascinating window into the refined, elegant and increasingly sybaritic life of fin-de-si'cle Vienna.  Considered provocatively sensational when it was written 100 years ago, perhaps the most shocking aspect of La Ronde today is how many of the problems it presents are still with us.

La Ronde is a series of ten vignettes.  In each scene, a new couple goes through a courting ritual and an aftermath ('before and after' scenario).  One member of each couple then walks into the next scene to consummate a new relationship.  The cycle of relationships begins with the Whore and the Soldier, proceeds to the Soldier and Parlor Maid continues to the Parlor Maid and Young Gentleman etc., until we are brought full circle to the Whore again. 

* * * MORE * * * *

The effect of this play is quite startling.  It appears playful, perhaps even frivolous at first, but by viewing each new couple our understanding of the ?routine? deepens.  Schnitzler is merciless in his totality:  ever cut of society and ever type of relationship is implicated, and ever love game, from the crudest to the most sophisticated, is exposed as a charade.  Does love exist?  Can there be a moment of genuine connection between two people?  Is there even such a thing as truth?  Not in a society that is jaded, licentious and self-serving, Schnitzler implies.  This is, perhaps, where this play intersects with our own reality since we, too, are living in a society that seeks the quick-fix and seems to brow increasingly blast. 

Schnitzler is an overlooked playwright.  He does not preach or moralize about the evils inherent in a society that has lost all trace of ethical behavior.  Rather, he paints a portrait, accurate to the last detail, of such a society, and lets it speak for itself.  Perhaps for this reason, the audiences of his day misinterpreted his work taking it to be an endorsement of a decadent lifestyle, His lightness of approach has often been mistaken for lightness of contentbut I believe that 'La Ronde' contains a great deal of social commentary that is particularly apt for an audience of today.  By its very nature 'La Ronde' invites an audience to be entertained, and (with the right combination of factors) enlightened.  Schritzler play's immediate focus on the empty, loveless state that occurs when every appetite, whim and lust is granted immediate fulfillment. 

The cast for this production includes students from both Hampden-Sydney and Longwood as well as some Hampden-Sydney faculty members.  Costume design is Dorothy Grothouse, a Longwood student; set design by Thomas McDonald, a Hampden-Sydney freshman; lighting design by Stuart Stone, also a freshman at Hampden-Sydney.

Director Shirley Kagan's previous experiences have taken her from the Adams Memorial Theater in Williamstown, Massachusetts to the Terpsichore Theatre in Tokyo. Other directing credits include work for the Seattle New Playwright's Festival as well as several productions in Honolulu.  She is in her first year as a professor of theatre at Hampden-Sydney.  Her most recent directing credit is the musical Working in Tokyo.