PARIS – “The Wandering Scholar” is one of two authentic medieval comedies L/A Arts will bring to McLaughlin Gardens Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 27-28. Originally a French play, it was translated into English and adapted by playwright and L/A Arts Executive Director Andrew Harris.

In this roughly 20-minute play, a grasping scholar comes looking for handouts. When he knocks on the door of a recently remarried widow and announces he has arrived from Paris, she misunderstands, thinking he has come from Paradise and asks if he has seen her beloved first husband. He immediately seizes on her mistake, allowing that, yes, he has seen him and offers to take her current husband’s belongings back for her departed husband’s stay in Heaven. When the current husband returns, he is less than happy and vows to get back his own – and give a bit in return.

The second play, titled “John John, Tyb and Father John,” is about a gullible husband who is dominated by his wife. Tyb, his wife, is often away, doing “good works” for the community and services for the church. John John has no clue what exactly those services are. When the parish priest comes to visit, John John is given a list of chores to do while his wife “entertains” the esteemed guest.

Medieval plays began as a way for the church to teach biblical stories to the illiterate population. But as actors embellished the stories and eventually used them to make fun of the ruling class, especially those who preyed on the poor, players were banned – unless they had a patron to protect their performing privileges.

Much of the humor in medieval plays is earthy, blatant, coarse, and politically incorrect by today’s standards. Both plays are written in rhyming, yet understandable, couplets; and those familiar with Chaucer will find recognizable characters within the stories.

“The Wandering Scholar” and “John John, Tyb and Father John” will be performed by the Actors Touring Company of Maine, a professional, non-Equity company.

Festivities Sept. 27 will begin at 5 p.m.; tickets are $25. Guests will be served punch and hors d’oeuvres while they tour the garden and then see both plays. The event Sept. 28 will begin at 2:30 p.m. and includes the same theatrical experience and garden tour with an afternoon tea. Tickets are $18. This is general admission seating. Please dress appropriately because activities will be outdoors or in an open barn. For more information, call 782-7228 or visit www.laarts.org.


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