Le Petomane and A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble is a Louisville-based ensemble of performing artists dedicated to the creation of new theatrical works and the reconsideration of classic works and forms, with the primary goal of making all of our offerings both artistically and economically accessible.

In October 2005, the six members of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble assembled for the first time. The project was a six-actor production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, using handmade masks, a new and roundly admired adaptation, and dedicated to a few simple notions:

- It’s a comedy. People should laugh.

- It’s in English. People should understand it.

- Puck is a great role, chaotic and huge. We should all play it.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream: In which six actors run about madly, and all of them get Pucked

And, according to one of the co-founders of Le Petomane, Gregory Maupin, that’s how it all started. “Sometimes we call Midsummer "The 'Christmas Carol' of Shakespeare." It's so popular with audiences that aren't even regular theatergoers, even though Shakespeare's comedies are notoriously difficult to treat as comedies in the modern sense. The situations of all the characters are so ludicrous and supernaturally off-balance that it was fun and surprisingly easy to go into.”

With sixteen masks, four puppets and the assumption that Shakespeare was out for laughs, they attack the language and the storytelling of the Bard as the physical comedy they believe it to be. They look forward to taking you along into the chaotic world of Puck, Shakespeare’s immortal meddling fairy, this Derby season – so forward to it that we’ll all take a turn at his role.

Following their earlier success, the group is bringing the highly acclaimed performance of Midsummer Night’s Dream to the Rudyard Kipling on April 17-20 and 24-27. As Maupin says “I think we succeed: the physicality that the mask work brings is something that local audiences don't get many opportunities to see, and it’s a style that Elizabethan audiences would have been familiar with. And we respected the script enough to find all of our answers inside it instead of looking around for other ideas to force in.”

Maupin and with his wife Abigail Bailey Maupin along with the rest of the gang have performed at several of Actors Theatre's Late Seating events and taken shows to Baltimore Theatre Project and the Cincinnati Fringe Festival. Maupin says “We're more like a band than the usual theater company. We really enjoy the interplay that comes with time and exposure to one another's stronger and weaker spots - plus, since we perform primarily at the Rudyard Kipling, we t/files/storyimages/to have to load in and out after each show.”

Tickets for A Midsummer Night’s Dream are available on an $8-$20 sliding scale*. Performances are April 17-20 and 24-27 at 7:30 pm at The Rudyard Kipling, 422 W. Oak St.

And, as for the name Le Petomane? It’s a name a young French boy, Joseph Pujol, called himself that later became synonymous throughout Europe with helpless, hysterical laughter. And as Maupin tells us “ We admire that take on one’s abilities… Plus, it's French, so you can tell we must be pretty classy, right?”

For reservation information, call (502) 636-1311 or email at Us@LePetomane.org.

Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble. Louisville’s purveyors of precise physical comedy with an edge.

* About the sliding scale: it is important to them that their work is available to as many people as possible. To that end, they offer the Sliding Scale. One pays what one a) thinks fair and b) can afford; and they will gleefully accept any amount above $20 one cares to give.

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