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Red Deer’s Prime Stock Theatre takes a modern look at a 300-year-old comedy

A French play from 1730, translated by Richard Beaune, will open Nov. 10
Zac Strom, who plays Louis in Prime Stock Theatre’s ‘The Games of Love and Chance,’ gets some attention from costumer Gwen McCagg at Red Deer’s Scott Block Theatre. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

Games of love and chance will play out in some gender-bending ways at the Scott Block Theatre next month.

Red Deer’s professional company, Prime Stock Theatre, will present a 300-year-old comedy about two couples who switch identities starting on Thursday, Nov. 10.

Pierre de Marivaux, the French playwright who wrote The Game of Love and Chance, lived in the powdered-wig era of King Louis XV.

Like many people of his age, he lived under the assumption that people were born into a certain class in society and were destined to stay there — a idea that simply isn’t as palatable today as when this play premiered n 1730, said Prime Stock’s artistic director Richard Beaune.

Despite this, Beaune, who translated the script — now titled The Games of Love and Chance — from the original French, became spellbound by the underlying sweetness of Marivaux’s story.

“I love that he was able to write a comedy about love without ever being cynical,” said Beaune. “The lovers are never made fun of, and love, itself, is never seen as anything but beautiful. I love that kind of sweetness and generosity…”

To shift the play’s focus from Marivaux’s moral about class destiny, Beaune did some creative casting and ended up bringing a novel viewpoint to this play about hidden identities.

In the original script, Sylvia, a noblewoman, is so nervous about meeting the man she is betrothed to that she convinces her female servant Lisette to switch places with her so she can more closely observe her fiance.

In Beaune’s version, there’s no Lisette but a man servant named Louis, who will still transition into a female to pretend to be his mistress.

This concept will allow for an open examination of gender roles and identity — which Beaune believes is very relevant at this time when more people are identifying as non-binary.

“It questions who am I, and what happens when I put on somebody else’s clothing? Do I learn something more about myself by putting on somebody else’s clothes?” he explained.

Audience members can either go home discussing a new perspective on gender dynamics — or they can just enjoy this “pleasant, delightful, heart-warming story,” he said. “Its really up to each person, what they get out of it.”

Seasoned costumer Gwen McCagg, who’s worked on many Red Deer College productions, is making the period wigs and elaborate 17th Century costumes for this ambitious production. And Red Deer’s Ash Mercia is among the cast of six professional actors who also hail from Calgary, Edmonton and Rosebud.

The Games of Love and Chance runs from Nov. 10 to 27.

For more information, or tickets, please visit (Available seats on Thursdays are pay-what-you-can.).

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