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Ooh-la-la: "Les Liaisons Dangereuses"

November 18, 2004

Photo of two actors in 18th century costumesIn his directorial debut, award-winning costume designer Todd Roehrman presents a visual feast with Christopher Hampton's Machiavellian minuet, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," through Dec. 5 at SFSU's Little Theatre in the Creative Arts building.

Set in pre-revolutionary France, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is the story of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, two characters who use sex as a weapon to humiliate, degrade and control others. Merteuil, rankled by the news of her ex-husband's plans to marry young, lovely and spotless Cecile, devises a plan to thwart his happiness by sabotaging Cecile's virtue. Her eager accomplice is Valmont. Together, the partners delight in mutual destruction of the ideals of devotion, marriage and love.

"This has been a longtime favorite of mine," said Associate Professsor of Theatre Arts Roehrman via telephone from the costume shop.

Roehrman, who is supervising MFA student Ruth Timbrell in the production's costume design, says he was eager to direct a play set in the 18th century, a period that hasn't been attempted on an SFSU stage since he joined the faculty eight years ago. By directing as well as having a hand in costume design he can work directly with actors on movement.

Another attraction for the director was the language of the play. "It felt more modern and easier for students to relate to, compared with other plays of this period such as [works by] Molière," Roehrman said, adding that he appreciates the substance of the storyline. "It's not about simply standing there and looking pretty."

Clearly, many others have shared his appreciation for the play. Christopher Hampton's adaptation, based on Pierre Choderlos de Laclos's 1782 novel of the same name, premiered in London in 1985 and earned the prestigious Olivier Award for best play the following year. On Broadway it won the Tony Award in 1987. In addition to stage adaptations, including as an opera, the storyline has been tackled in recent years in movies and television under such titles as "Dangerous Liaisons," "Valmont" and "Cruel Intentions."

All seats are $8. Regular performances are 8 p.m. Nov. 18-20 and Dec. 2-4 and 2 p.m. Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 in the Little Theatre of the Creative Arts building. Admission is $10 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors. For tickets, call the Creative Arts Box Office Monday through Friday between noon and 4 p.m. at (415) 338-2467. Tickets also go on sale one hour before each show.

The run includes two pre-show talks as well as one post-show discussion:

  • Meet the director and design team
    Pre-Show: 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, Studio Theatre, Creative Arts building
  • Join a moderated discussion highlighting 18th Century French manners and morals
    Pre-Show: noon Thursday, Dec. 2, Studio Theatre, Creative Arts building
  • Talk back with the cast
    Post-Show: Friday, Dec. 3, Little Theatre, Creative Arts building

-- Adrianne Bee


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Last modified November 18, 2004 by University Communications