Around The World In 80 Days

By William Shakespeare
June 1 2007
directed by Philip C. Sneed

At the opening of the play, servant James Forster is summarily fired by his pedantically precise English master, Phileas Fogg, for bringing him his shaving water at the wrong temperature. In his place, Jean Passepartout is hired, which pleases the Frenchman to no end; he was looking for "...a quieter life," and thinks he has found it. That same day at the Reform Club, however, Fogg makes a bet that he can travel around the world in only eighty days. With £20,000 at stake, Fogg sets off that evening, much to the astonishment of Passepartout. A week later the Morning Chronicle's headline announces that Phileas Fogg might be the notorious gentleman bank robber who has recently stolen £55,000 from a London bank. Scotland Yard's dogmatic Detective Fix is sent in pursuit, and arrives at the Suez Canal hoping to catch the criminal; once presented with Fogg's description, he believes that he has his man. Since Fix's arrest warrant hasn't yet caught up with him, he decides to follow Fogg. Outside of Allahabad, India, they are forced to exit their train to Calcutta after learning that fifty miles of the track is unfinished. Luckily, Passepartout finds an elephant and a guide. On their way through the jungle the travelers discover a procession of Brahmins preparing to perform a suttee - a human sacrifice. This time, however, it's not a voluntary one-the beautiful Aouda is condemned to be burned alive with her recently-departed husband, the old Rajah. Fogg immediately calculates that there is enough time to save her, and Passepartout carries out the rescue. In order to assure Aouda's safety, Fogg insists that she accompany them. Forced to find a small boat for travel, they next encounter a typhoon. Luckily, the storm comes from the south, and speeds them toward their destination. After reaching San Francisco, they catch an eastbound train headed for New York. En route, they encounter more obstacles, and are forced to jump their train over a suspension bridge; later, the group encounters raiding Indians who capture Passepartout. Even though he has no days to spare, Fogg feels duty-bound to rescue his servant, and immediately takes off after him. After many hours Fogg finally returns with Passepartout, but now they have to find another way east. Upon reaching New York, Fogg is able to finagle passage across the Atlantic on a boat owned by a cantankerous captain. Once back in England, their final obstacle occurs when Fix arrests Fogg and throws him in jail despite the fact that he's come to admire the man. Although it's a mistake and Fogg is eventually set free, he determines that he cannot reach the Reform Club before the deadline and hence has lost the bet. The next morning he calls Aouda to his room where she proposes marriage to him. But it turns out that they've arrived a day early: by traveling eastward they gained a day when crossing the International Date Line. Fogg arrives victorious at the Reform Club, and having spent £20,000 on his trip, comes out even. -Mary McDaniel, Dramaturg

Date Time
Friday June 1 12:00 am
Closed

At the opening of the play, servant James Forster is summarily fired by his pedantically precise English master, Phileas Fogg, for bringing him his shaving water at the wrong temperature. In his place, Jean Passepartout is hired, which pleases the Frenchman to no end; he was looking for "...a quieter life," and thinks he has found it. That same day at the Reform Club, however, Fogg makes a bet that he can travel around the world in only eighty days. With £20,000 at stake, Fogg sets off that evening, much to the astonishment of Passepartout. A week later the Morning Chronicle's headline announces that Phileas Fogg might be the notorious gentleman bank robber who has recently stolen £55,000 from a London bank. Scotland Yard's dogmatic Detective Fix is sent in pursuit, and arrives at the Suez Canal hoping to catch the criminal; once presented with Fogg's description, he believes that he has his man. Since Fix's arrest warrant hasn't yet caught up with him, he decides to follow Fogg. Outside of Allahabad, India, they are forced to exit their train to Calcutta after learning that fifty miles of the track is unfinished. Luckily, Passepartout finds an elephant and a guide. On their way through the jungle the travelers discover a procession of Brahmins preparing to perform a suttee - a human sacrifice. This time, however, it's not a voluntary one-the beautiful Aouda is condemned to be burned alive with her recently-departed husband, the old Rajah. Fogg immediately calculates that there is enough time to save her, and Passepartout carries out the rescue. In order to assure Aouda's safety, Fogg insists that she accompany them. Forced to find a small boat for travel, they next encounter a typhoon. Luckily, the storm comes from the south, and speeds them toward their destination. After reaching San Francisco, they catch an eastbound train headed for New York. En route, they encounter more obstacles, and are forced to jump their train over a suspension bridge; later, the group encounters raiding Indians who capture Passepartout. Even though he has no days to spare, Fogg feels duty-bound to rescue his servant, and immediately takes off after him. After many hours Fogg finally returns with Passepartout, but now they have to find another way east. Upon reaching New York, Fogg is able to finagle passage across the Atlantic on a boat owned by a cantankerous captain. Once back in England, their final obstacle occurs when Fix arrests Fogg and throws him in jail despite the fact that he's come to admire the man. Although it's a mistake and Fogg is eventually set free, he determines that he cannot reach the Reform Club before the deadline and hence has lost the bet. The next morning he calls Aouda to his room where she proposes marriage to him. But it turns out that they've arrived a day early: by traveling eastward they gained a day when crossing the International Date Line. Fogg arrives victorious at the Reform Club, and having spent £20,000 on his trip, comes out even. -Mary McDaniel, Dramaturg

Descended from a generation of ship builders and merchants, Jules Verne (1828-1905) was the oldest of five children and lived in the famous French port of Nantes. Nantes, a major Atlantic seaport, saw regular traffic of sailing ships and eventually steamers. As a boy, Verne wrote that he imagined climbing onto their tall riggings and raising himself up to the crow's nests. At the age of nineteen and at the insistence of his father, Verne traveled to Paris to sit for his law exams. He returned at the age of twenty and settled there, immediately befriending Alexandre Dumas, the prolific playwright who penned such classics as The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers and Camille. It is through this friendship that Verne gained his passion for writing. He started his career by writing plays and prose and published his first short stories in an illustrated family magazine. In 1863 he joined forces with publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel (who had published both Balzac and Georges Sand) and began to write his first novel, Five Weeks in a Balloon, which became a huge commercial success. Verne turned into a prolific writer, and in his lifetime authored over fifty novels. Today he remains the most translated author in the world, and second in sales only to Agatha Christie. Originally published as a series entitled Les Voyages Extraordinaires (Extraordinary Voyages) in the popular French magazine Le Temps, Jules Verne's unique mixture of comedy and adventure made his thirteenth novel, Around the World in 80 Days, his most popular piece of fiction. Although scholars cannot verify the figures, Pierre-Jules Hetzel reports selling over 108,000 copies of the book. In 1874 Verne combined forces with well-known playwright Adolphe d'Ennery, whose stage version generated even more popularity for the story. Jules Verne was apparently inspired by several scientific facts combined with an article he read in a magazine reporting that one could travel the world in as little as eighty days. Upon realizing that his traveler could profit from the difference of meridian, the exciting groundwork was laid. At the time of the novel's writing, many popular family magazines were published that spoke of foreign lands and boasted discoveries of strange new marine life. In Verne's own lifetime he would see the birth of phosphorous matches, letterheads, postage stamps, the metric system, railroads, steamboats, gas electricity, the phonograph and the telegraph. Verne's classic is a surprising look at the world at large and expresses extremely contemporary viewpoints about foreign peoples and oppressive situations. Here Verne effectively pokes fun at the nature of British sensibility with his phlegmatic gentleman Phileas Fogg, who ultimately proves to be somewhat contrary to his appearance. The universality of 80 Days is in part responsible for its popularity; the book has spawned dozens of television and film adaptations. Verne's fast-moving story gives us an adventurous and extraordinary journey filled with imagination and reality and at the same time proves to be ultimately romantic. -Mary McDaniel, Dramaturg