Saturday, September 3, 2011

World Famous Playwright You May Never Have Heard Of

Posted by Bruce Miller
Our mystery playwright lived from 1923 until 2003. During his 80 years, he wrote 40 plays that have been produced professionally in 55 different countries. His most famous play ran for 19 years in one of the world's greatest theatre capitals, and seven years in another. Ten of his plays have been translated into hit films and television adaptations. It is estimated that 20 million (and growing) people have attended live performances of his work, and a half billion more have enjoyed his plays in their recorded adaptations. For his contributions to international arts and letters, he received one of his nation's highest honors.

Who is this giant of world theatre? Marc Camoletti, the author of Boeing-Boeing.

Boeing-Boeing concludes its seven week run at Barksdale Theatre at Hanover Tavern with performances at 8 pm tonight (Saturday) and 2 pm tomorrow (Sunday). Half-price rush tickets may be available two hours prior to performance by calling the Barksdale box office at 282-2620.

It's a well known fact that creators of comedies seldom receive the respect awarded to creators of dramas and/or musicals. Except in France. Good thing for Camoletti he was French. Sort of. Camoletti was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1923, into a family of Italian origin. His grandfather, also named Marc Camoletti, was an internationally renowned architect who designed and built the landmark Victoria Theatre in Geneva, given to the citizens of Switzerland by the British consulate in the 1890s, in honor of Queen Victoria.

By the time grandson Camoletti's first play was produced in 1958 (in fact, his first three plays were all produced that year), he was living in Paris. The City of Lights loved Camoletti's first play, La Bonne Anna, and they instantly claimed this luminous new playwright as a native son.

All of Camoletti's plays are crowd-pleasing comedies. No one appreciates screwball comedy more than the French. Camoletti's 1960 play, Boeing-Boeing, debuted to rave reviews and instantly became one of the classic farces of the 20th century. It ran in Paris for 19 years, and after opening on London's West End in 1962 in an English adaptation by Beverley Cross (Dame Maggie Smith's late husband), it ran for another seven years in London.

Recently it was revived in a Tony Award-winning production on Broadway.

Camoletti's two plays to achieve fame and name recognition in the U. S. are Boeing-Boeing and its sequel, Don't Dress for Dinner. Boeing-Boeing is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "most performed French play worldwide." Take that, Tartuffe.

Camoletti is greatly beloved and respected in France. In the 1980s he was awarded the Chevalier de la L├ęgion d'honneur, one of his adopted nation's highest honors.

If you'd like a taste of what makes Camoletti so great, I hope you'll stop by Hanover Tavern for one of our final two performances. Our terrific cast (Maura Burroughs, Donna Marie Miller, Derek Phipps, Denis Riva, Susan Sanford and Caylyn Temple) are having the times of their lives, and they'll be happy to jet you to Paris for a hilarious trip back to the 60s--Camoletti style.

--Bruce Miller

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