Play 4, 2012

Diary of a Scoundrel

by Alexander Ostrovsky

directed by Brian Cannon


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He's too clever by half. Bring on the revolution.....!

The Play

It's Russia in the 19th Century. Crumbling buildings and aristocrats, grandiose in their self-importance, are all too easily taken down by our "too clever by half" protagonist - a "wannabe", a futurist who understands the value of influence, how to acquire it and how to channel it to his own ends. No Wikileaks in this era, but in this line of work, one must be oh so careful when one puts pen to paper.

The scoundrel, Gloumov, flatters, misleads, and generally cons his way up through society. Our hero has a relatively easy time of it, playing off the clairvoyants, charlatans, matchmakers, matriarchs, grafters and graspers who inhabit his world. Is it any wonder the peasants revolted?

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The Playwright

Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrovsky was born on April 12, 1823. As a student he started to write and became a fan of Moscow's Maly Theatre. Ostrovsky worked for a time in the Russian Court system where he observed disputes chiefly among the Russian merchant class, from which he drew the chief characters for his early comedies.

Ostrovsky was one of several well-known literary men sent into the provinces to report on the condition of the people. Ostrovsky's area of inquiry lay along the upper Volga, a part of the country memorable for some of the most important events in Russian history.

This mission inspired him to write several historical dramas of great merit, such as Kozma Zakhar'yich Minin-Sukhoruk (the full name of the famous butcher who saved Moscow from the Poles), The False Dmitry and Vassily Shuisky, Vassilisa Melentieva (the name of a favourite court lady of Ivan the Terrible) and the comedy Voyevoda. Many of his later works treat of the Russian nobility, and include Money to Burn (Beshenye Den'gi), Without a Dowry (Bespridannitsa), and Wolves and Sheep (Volki i Ovtsy); others relate to the world of actors, such as Forest (Les), Guilty Without Fault (Bez viny vinovatye), and Talents and Admirers (Talanty i Poklonniki).

Ostrovsky enjoyed the patronage of Tsar Alexander III and received a pension of 3000 roubles a year. He helped establish the Maly Theatre as a model theatre and school of dramatic art, of which he became the first director. He also founded the Society of Russian Dramatic Art and Opera Composers.



The Director

Brian Cannon has directed and appeared in numerous plays for Villanova Players. In 2007 he directed the powerful The Beauty Queen of Leenane and in 2008, Edith Stein and in 2011, Marvin's Room. His most recent on stage appearances were in 2012 as the wisecracking Gaston in Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile, in 2010 as the proud industrialist, Mr Birling, in An Inspector Calls, Henry in Cosi in 2009, the judge in To Kill a Mockingbird in 2005 and the swaggering, belligerent Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams's Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

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