• Kay Kostopoulos and Marty Pistone in SST's The Importance of Being Earnest.

  • Ruth Marks in SST's The Importance of Being Earnest.

  • Marty Pistone and David Raymond in SST's The Importance of Being Earnest.

  • Courtney Walsh as Winnie in SST's 2013 Happy Days.

  • Courtney Walsh as Winnie in SST's Happy Days.

He’s Funny That Way: Oscar Wilde & Samuel Beckett

Stanford Summer Theater (SST) celebrates its fifteenth season with an explosion of comedy – comedy with a difference. We meet two great Irish dramatists, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett, in a festival featuring productions of The Importance of Being Earnest and Happy Days. There is also a free Monday night film series on “apocalyptic comedy,” a community symposium on Wilde and Beckett, and a Stanford Continuing Studies summer course titled Wilde, Beckett, and the Split Visions of Comedy.

The Importance of Being Earnest
July 18 – August 11
Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 pm, Sunday matinees at 2 pm
Pigott Theater, Memorial Auditorium
Click here to purchase tickets
 

Recognized as one of the funniest comedies in the English language, Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest dazzles with ironic wit, comic invention, razor-sharp subtlety and bold servings of humor. Wilde’s comic genius creates a world of sheer delight, where manners matter, romance rules and laughter has the final say.

Directed by Bay-Area legend Lynne Soffer, Wilde’s masterpiece stars SST favorites Marty Pistone (Curse of the Starving Class, Restoration Comedy), Kay Kostopoulos (Under Milk Wood, Electra, The Lover), Courtney Walsh (The Wanderings of Odysseus, Oedipus, Faith Healer), Jessica Waldman and Don DeMico (Curse of the Starving Class), as well as new company members Austin Caldwell, Ruth Marks, and David Raymond.

The Importance of Being Earnest is stylish comedy at its best.

Happy Days
August 15 – August 25
Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 pm, Sunday matinees at 2 pm
Nitery Theater, Old Union
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 We follow Wilde’s romantic comedy of manners with Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days, an extraordinary comedy of wasting away. The irrepressible Winnie sits buried to her waist in a mound of sand, trying to engage her slightly more mobile husband, Willie. In spite of growing trials and tribulations, Winnie carries on bravely, foolishly, winningly. Why is this so funny? How can Beckett make us laugh in spite of ourselves, succumbing to that “brief gale of laughter when we happen to see the old joke again?”

Beckett delivers a theatrical experience unparalleled in its comic precision and deep humor. SST veteran Courtney Walsh (The Wanderings of Odysseus, Oedipus, Faith Healer) takes on the demanding role of Winnie, with Don DeMico as Willie, in a production that travels to Paris and Montpellier, France in the fall.

Monday Night Film Series
Apocalyptic Comedy
Mondays, July 8 – August 19

7 pm (no admission after 7:15 pm)

Annenberg Auditorium, Cummings Art Building

FREE
 

The free film series focuses on the comic potential in even the most desperate of situations. Stanford faculty and SST company members introduce the screenings.

July 8 Big Business (Laurel and Hardy) and Dr. Strangelove (Kubrick)
Discussant: Scott Bukatmen, Professor of Film Studies, Stanford
 
July 15 One, Two, Three (Wilder)
Discussant: Adrian Daub, Professor of German Studies
 
July 22 Hard Luck (Buster Keaton), and Duck Soup (Marx Brothers)
Discussant: Ken Fields, Professor of English
 
July 29 Catch-22 (Nichols)
Discussant: Rush Rehm, Artistic Director, SST
 
August 5 The Great Dictator (Chaplin)
Discussant: Adrian Daub, Professor of German Studies
 
August 12 In Bruges (McDonagh)
Discussant: Tobias Wolff, Professor of English
 
August 19 Seven Beauties (Wertmuller)
Discussant: Inga Pierson, Ph.D. Candidate, French and Italian
 
Continuing Studies Community Symposium
He’s Funny That Way: Oscar Wilde & Samuel Beckett
Saturday, August 3
9:30 am – 5 pm, lunch included

Pigott Theater, Memorial Auditorium
Click here to purchase tickets, advance registration required
 

On Saturday August 3 in Stanford’s intimate Piggot Theater, Continuing Studies and SST collaborate in an all-day symposium, He’s Funny That Way: Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett. Explore these amazing Irish playwrights, both of whom aim at the comic heart of things but pursue radically different approaches in getting there.

Charles Junkerman, the dean of Continuing Studies and associate provost, will deliver the keynote address. Other lecturers include Professors William Eddelman and Alice Rayner (Emeriti, Theater and Performance Studies), Petra Dierkes-Thrun (Lecturer, English Department), SST artistic director Rush Rehm, and guest artists Lynne Soffer, Marty Pistone and Courtney Walsh.

The incomparable Geoff Hoyle (whose previous work with SST includes Waiting for Godot, The Chairs, Lysistrata, and Translations) will perform parts of his marvelous one-man show Geezer, not to be missed!

The symposium also includes staged scenes from the plays of Wilde and Beckett (performed by the SST company), morning coffee and muffins, a delicious catered lunch on the “left bank” of Memorial Auditorium and afternoon tea and cookies (with, perhaps, the odd cucumber sandwich!). Tickets ($90 each) are available at continuingstudies.stanford.edu. Advance registration is required.