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also requires versatility. Actors need to be able to sing, dance,

perhaps play music and perform physical stunts. The show will

be 50 minutes of high energy fun. I expect that the cast will be

exhausted at the end of each performance.”

The form lends itself particularly well to plays for children

because of its action, humor, visual richness and use of music

and dance, which factored into Dweil’s choice when conceiving

a show for youth. “The language in the play is also fun, and

kids will appreciate that. There is a lot of alliteration, like the

repetition of ’C’ or ’S,’ as in the title,” Dweil explained.

Improvisation is also vital part of the style, and the

performance can quickly veer into unplanned situations. Actors

must remain alert and fleet of foot to keep the action moving

and the audiences captivated. “I’m really looking forward

to seeing the students’ input. I am going to have some high

expectations, but what they do with the characters and scenes is

really their own.”

As is often the case with comedy, there is a seam of

seriousness threaded through the play. “I don’t want to give

anything away, but amidst the cleverness and fun is often a

great opportunity for a moral lesson,” Dweil said.

The performances will be staged in area schools and

as far distant as Harrisburg, in a variety of venues that

will include modest auditoriums, black box spaces and

proscenium stages. “It is beneficial for the students to have

the practical experience of performing in so many different

environments,” Dweil said.

Dweil also cites the traveling production as part of

the college’s dedication to the community.

“Lycoming has an important

interest in Williamsport,” she

said. “We are looking for ways

to give back, and I try to use my

undergraduate theatre class as part of that.

I tell my students: You’re here for four years;

go out and see what you can do, what you can

impact. So this is another part of an ongoing

effort at the college to both get out into the

community in a positive way, and also bring

the community here into the college.”

theatre for the people, commedia dell’arte is loaded

with pranks, pratfalls, outlandish masks and striking

costumes. It flourished first in Italy in the 16th century,

where some of the first professional theatre troupes created the

art form and performed it on the streets of Verona, Mantua and


Though debate still simmers as to whether it sprang directly

from roving bands of medieval players, or if its origins harken

all the way back to the farces of republican Rome, one sure

thing is that the commedia weaved perennial storylines and

characters –– thwarted lovers, meddlesome old cranks, self-

important blowhards and mischievous scamps –– into a unique

pageantry that could melt the resistance of all but the dourest


Now, a Lycoming professor has put together a contemporary

production that she will share with area schools in the spring.

Tiffany T. Dweil, visiting assistant professor of theatre, wrote

and is directing “A Saucy Sausage Sandwich, A Commedia

dell’Arte Theatre for Youth.”

“The play has big characters, based on some of the classic

commedia dell’arte archetypes, like the crafty Pulcinella and

Isabella, the forlorn lover,” Dweil said. “It’s a challenge for

the actors, and so it’s great for our students. There is a lot of

physical acting, slapstick and over-the-top exaggeration.”

Song, dance and healthy doses of madcap hijinks

were all part of the stock-in-trade for commedia

performers, and Dweil’s show is true to that


“This piece is going

to be physically

demanding in terms

of the acrobatics and

the flexibility required

to pull it off,” Dweil said. “I told my

students that they had better start

doing some yoga if they want

to be in it! It

A Saucy Sausage Sandwich