KNOXVILLE, TN – A fast-paced farce packed with memorable characters, “The Busy Body” runs in the Clarence Brown Theatre’s Carousel Theatre February 22 – March 12, 2017. In this comedy, a young woman, her handsome lover, and their friends plot to escape a controlling guardian. Will a nosey nobleman ruin the plan or save the day?
Charlotte Munson as Miranda in the CBT’s “The Busy Body.” The play was written by Susanna Centlivre in 1709, with adaptations by UT Faculty Misty Anderson and John Sipes. Photo Liz Aaron.
A Pay What You Wish Preview performance, where patrons can name their own price, will be held Wednesday, February 22 from Noon to 7 pm at the theatre. A Talk Back with the actors will take place Sunday, March 5 following the matinee. A panel discussion in association with the Commission for Women will take place on March 9 at 3:30 pm in the Carousel Theatre. The Open Captioned performance is Sunday, March 12 at 2:00 pm.
According to Restoration scholar Anderson, Centlivre’s comedy was the most popular play written by a woman in the eighteenth century and among the 10 most popular plays of the entire period. Audiences in Charleston, Williamsburg, Baltimore, New York, and other colonial theatre towns in the early days of America flocked to it. It even played in Havana and Kingston, Jamaica! The play’s pace calls for the kind of physical comedy one might have seen on “The Carol Burnett Show.”
“The Busy Body” gives us a window into the world of marriage at a time when women’s roles were just beginning to change, and playwrights like Centlivre were beginning to see women as equals to men. Manners and codes of conduct required curtsies, bows, and polite forms of address, but marriage contracts were also big business.
The two heroines struggle against arrangements that would turn them into mere goods traded between men using secret identities, tricks, messages in code, and helpful waiting maids. The results are hilarious and surprisingly modern; the young women are frank, spunky, and unstoppable, and their lovers seem to love them all the more for it.
Free and convenient parking is available in the McClung Tower Garage on Volunteer Boulevard.