Donogoo

The Story

In DONOGOO, ambition and imagination collude to create fact out of fraud.

Lamendin is a desperate man suffering from an existential crisis. Le Trouhadec is a professor of geography who longs for election to the Academy of Sciences. Together they unwittingly set in motion a stock market swindle of global proportions. Investors, pioneers and prospectors alike are driven to seek their fortune in Donogoo, a place that doesn't exist—or does it? .

DONOGOO was originally published in 1920 as a novel in the form of a mock film scenario. It wasn't until the opening of the Théâtre Pigalle in Paris that re-fashioning DONOGOO into a play was even deemed possible by Romains. Opened in 1929, the Pigalle was billed as the most modern theatre in the world, employing the latest developments in theatrical design and backstage machinery. Though impressive, the Pigalle faced an uncertain fate in its first year of operation as it was unable to find a production suited to its mammoth technological capabilities. Finally, Romains' cinematic tale—which swings wildly from a scene atop the Moselle Bridge, to an office, to the wilds of South America—could be fashioned into a play script.

DONOGOO opened in October of 1930 and was so successful it saved the struggling Théâtre Pigalle from ruin. Le Figaro called the play, "a complete triumph; filled with very amusing burlesque, an atmosphere of adventure, and written with all the skill and vitality that one expects from the author of KNOCK." Yet, the play remains all but unknown in the English-speaking world; it has been performed only once in this country, in 1961 at the Greenwich Mews Theatre in New York, directed by Adrian Hall. "A spoof of scientific accuracy, high finance, trade, patriotism, pioneering, and a host of momentous and minute matters," wrote the New York Times, calling the play "sharp and amusing."

Our production of DONOGOO will feature a vibrant new translation by Gus Kaikkonen, who will also direct. Gus previously translated and directed Jules Romains' DR. KNOCK for the Mint in 2010. DONOGOO will feature fourteen actors who will portray the sixty-six characters that populate this dark and madly ambitious comedy. Mint Theater is pleased to present DONOGOO—a satire whose sting remains sharp today—with performances beginning June 3rd, 2014.

The Author

Jules Romains (1885-1972): Romains was born Louis-Henri-Jean Farigoule on August 26, 1885. He spent most of his childhood in Paris, where his father was a teacher. In 1902, he published his first poem, “Le Chef-d’ouvre” (“The Masterpiece”) in La Revue jeune. He published under the pen name he would use the rest of his life—Jules Romains—chosen because it was easy to pronounce, memorable, and expressed his love of Rome.

Romains continued to write and publish poetry, but he also furthered his education. After graduation, he taught philosophy full-time while continuing to write poems and prose. His first volume of poems, La vie unanime, published in 1908, outlined his new philosophy of Unanimism, which he discovered while wandering the streets of Paris. In Unanimism, Romains “had an intuition of the interconnectedness of all people, that groups possess a sort of collective soul, generated by disparate individuals who make up the group,” according to biographer Susan McCready. Unanimism influenced a generation of avant-garde thinkers and artists.

Romains first success as a playwright came in 1923 with Monsieur Le Trouhadec sai-si par la débauche, about a naïve yet cunning professor. It was directed by visionary actor/director/designer Louis Jouvet. (The character of Professor Le Trouhadec is central to the story of Donogoo.)

Romains surpassed the success of Trouhadec with another comedy the same year, Knock, or Le Triomphe de la médicine, directed by Louis Jouvet, who played the title role. The play was a sensation. Dr. Knock was revived six times between 1924 and 1933, and seven more times between 1935 and 1949. In 2010 Mint produced DR. KNOCK, also translated and directed by Gus Kaikkonen. Again the play worked its magic.

Cast

  • Ross Bickell
  • Mitch Greenberg
  • George Morfogen
  • Jay Patterson
  • Paul Pontrelli
  • Dave Quay
  • Douglas Rees
  • James Riordan
  • Megan Robinson
  • Kraig Swartz
  • Scott Thomas
  • Brian Thomas Vaughan
  • Vladimir Versailles

Creatives

  • Sets Roger Hanna
  • Costumes Sam Fleming
  • Lights Price Johnston
  • Original Music & Sound Jane Shaw
  • Projections Roger Hanna & Price Johnston
  • Props Joshua Yocom
  • Casting Judy Bowman
  • Production Manager Sherri Kotimsky
  • Production Stage Manager Lisa McGinn
  • Assistant Stage Manager Laura Kim
  • Illustration Stefano Imbert
  • Graphics Hey Jude Design, Inc.
  • Advertising The Pekoe Group
  • Press David Gersten & Associates