The Man Who Laughs

Directed by: Jon Stancato

A live silent film for the stage
A humorous and heartbreaking “silent film for the stage” featuring live musical accompaniment, freely inspired by Victor Hugo’s grotesque romance about a man whose face has been carved into a permanent smile and the women who yearn for him.

After rave reviews for Commedia dell’Artemisia, the company’s “dizzying and fun” ( offering for the 2005 Stampede Festival, The Stolen Chair Theatre Company returns to the East Village as guest artists of the Horse Trade Theater Group, with the world-premiere of their newest production, The Man Who Laughs, freely inspired by a Victor Hugo novel of the same name. This horrific, comedic, and romantic melodrama, which will open Stolen Chair’s 4th Season, represents the boldest project the company has taken on to date. A band of gypsies kidnaps a gentle young boy and surgically disfigures his face into a permanent smile. He finds his way into the wagon of a lovably misanthropic itinerant performer who adopts him and a blind foundling girl he has discovered in his travels. As the children age, they fall in love and join their father on stage, gaining fame and fortune in their roles as clown and ingénue. They live happily together, but when their performances command the attention of a debauched Duchess, her lust for the deformed clown threatens to tear the family apart.

Featuring the critically lauded SITI Company-trained ensemble of Commedia dell’ Artemisia and live original music composed and performed by Emily Otto, the production, collectively created under the direction of Jon Stancato, evokes the experience of seeing a silent film, including such details as close-ups and projected intertitles—all with 6 live actors performing only feet from the audience. Stolen Chair picks up where Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford’s blockbuster hit all wear bowlers left off—taking Lecoq-based physical theatre and classic slapstick, and fusing them with the stylized horror, romance, and melodrama of early film to create an unforgettable theatrical experience.

The Man Who Laughs will open Halloween 2005
for a limited 6-performance run at The Red Room.

The production is fully accessible for deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences.

All audience members who come dressed in costume opening night will get in at the discounted price of $10.

The production was created with the support of an artistic residency
granted by the Swarthmore Project in Theatre.

About The Stolen Chair Theatre Company
The Stolen Chair Theatre Company, a member of the DISH community of independent theatre companies, is a non-profit laboratory theatre dedicated to the collective creation of imaginative new work and original adaptations of classical texts. Fusing high theatricality and playful dramaturgy with traditional storytelling, Stolen Chair is committed to recycling the old to create the new and to discovering a joyful space between irony and sincerity
Under the artistic direction of Kiran Rikhye and Jon Stancato, the company has created eight original productions which have played to critical acclaim and sold-out houses in New York and Philadelphia. Always a success at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the company’s last Fringe offering was one of the Citypaper’s 25 top picks. Recently, the company has been praised by Martin Denton for “making an audience think about gender politics in the middle of a raucous seduction scene” and by Fifth Street Review for creating “one of the most elegantly scripted ‘rapes’ in the history of theatre.”
Stolen Chair is a four-time recipient of support from the Swarthmore Project in Theatre.