Dark Comedy Completes
A girls' reform school in Poland in the early 1980s
provides the setting for a surprising black comedy to be performed on commencement
weekend as the closing production of the theatre department season.
Cinders, directed by Alison Scher ’07,
will be performed Thursday through Saturday, May 17 through 19, at 8:30 p.m. in Hallie
Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts. The play was
written by Polish playwright and novelist Janusz Glowacki and opened at London’s
Royal Court Theatre in 1981.
When Poland state officials learn that a girls’ reform
school is planning to stage the classic fairytale Cinderella, a documentary
film director is sent to the school to make a simple propaganda film about Poland
and its fine state-run institutions. Unfortunately for the girls, the director has
At the time the play was written, Poland’s political
situation was unstable and grim. Nevertheless, Glowacki chose to frame his political
commentary as a comedy because of that genre's power to expose guises and point out
the pretense of subversive subject matter in a way that allows everyone to understand
and enjoy it.
Scher’s addition to the play of original music,
choreography, and a chorus further illustrates Glowacki’s dark, absurdist humor. “One
of my favorite descriptions of the play was written by New York Times journalist
John Simon: ‘Cinders is a cat and mouse game as comic as it is scary,’” said
Scher has always loved comedy, she says, especially
of the dark and “inappropriate” variety. She began her comic career by
joining Comedy Kids, a program for young adults interested in improvisation and comedy
as an art form. She has made an extreme effort to instill comedy into all her work
at Smith, and was a member of the college’s comedy improvisation troupe SIKOS.
Scher, who is also an actress, has appeared in numerous
stage productions at Smith, including Lysistrata, This is a Play, Top Girls,
Marya, and Six Characters in Search of an Author. Scher will enter
the University of Southern California Film School in the fall.
Tickets for Cinders ($7 general, $5 students
and seniors) are available by calling 413-585-ARTS (2787).