one-act play

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one-act play


The Inspector General

By Nicolay Gogol

The mayor of a small country town tells his fellow city officials that he has received word that an inspector is coming from the Capitol incognito. A couple of local gossipers announce that they think the government inspector is staying at the local inn. A clerk and his servant, both from the Capitol, are staying at the inn and have spent all of their money on food and gambling. When the mayor meets the clerk, thinking him the government inspector, he fears that he will be arrested for the corrupt practices he has taken part in. When the clerk meets the mayor, he thinks that he is being arrested for not paying his bills. Instead, the mayor invites the clerk to his home and the clerk begins accepting money offered to him as bribery from the city officials. The mayor’s wife and daughter are courted by the clerk and the town’s merchants and citizens beg the clerk to help them escape the corrupt mayor’s tyranny. The clerk is caught flirting with the mayor’s daughter and then with her mother. He asks to marry the daughter and, after writing a letter about the stupidity of the city officials, he leaves with a pocket full of money. Shortly after he leaves, the postmaster tells everyone that the town has mistakenly identified the clerk as the government official. An officer confirms this by announcing that the real government inspector is now staying at the inn.

VHS Advanced Play ProductionDirecting the Concept By Mary Begley

The world of the play is presented through false fronts and rotting structures propped up to appear grand. Square frames exemplify a lack of substance while attempting to be solid.

Fear, suspicion, and false information will rule governments run by greedy, dishonest leaders, making them fools who are easily fooled.

Concept of Style:

My concept will be further enhanced by setting it in the American West during the mid to late 1800’s. Wild boom- towns overrun by outlaws characterize this time. Disorder, drinking, gambling, and false fronted buildings all parallel the corruption and attempted cover-ups seen in the Inspector General. Because the play was written in the early 1840s its language and references fit the slightly later time period. The Inspector’s Russian town is depicted as small and isolated, populated with simple minded folks. This also fits well into the American western frontier towns.

Narrative Summation:

Old-west False Fronted Building

Production Metaphor

Lighting: Backlighting, shadows and silhouettes will emphasize the idea of making appearances of truth without the showing the real thing. Reds and amber colors will give a sense of a western sunset. Warm washes with cyc lighting will heighten a sense of lighthearted humor with deeper meaning lurking on the horizon.Sound: Western tunes with whistling wind will heighten the comic juxtaposition of isolation with attempted sophistication. Makeup: Large mustaches styled and clipped in western fashion supports the feeling of false appearances and foolishness. Costumes: Earth tone colors with touches of reds and greens will create an earthy/dirty layer trimmed with false luxury. Set: The set will reflect a western run-down feel through rough wooden door frames and rotted wooden crates. The frames, which will be able to move to different stage locations will hint at new settings while maintaining the feeling of false solidity. The cyc curtain will help the frameworks pop and give a sense of western isolation. Silhouette cowboy actors will move the set pieces around and create a feeling of romanticized old west tacky humor.Movement: The movement tempo is that of a washboard rhythm and high pitched trill of a flute. These contrasting tempos will show the lack of a middle road/normal people in the world of the play. The movement is exaggerated in that appearances are more important to the people of this town than anything else. Therefore, they try to present themselves at all times. Urgent entrances and door use will enhance the farcical elements of the script.

Concept of place & time:

Production Approach:

Director's Notes: Great plays have messages about the human condition that can be applied to any generation, in any place, and at any time. The Inspector General is one of those plays. Even though it is a Russian play written in the 1800s, its depiction of bumbling, corrupt leaders and the panic that ensues when they are exposed is prevalent throughout every country’s history. I chose to set this in the American west because it brings the story closer to home and because the dialogue, characters, and action are a close parallel to our romanticized view of the Wild West.


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