Theatre and Film, Johnny Carson School of


Date of this Version



Published in ON-STAGE STUDIES 17 (1994), pp. 62-70. Published by the Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO.


Why do a production of The Menaechmus Twins by Plautus at Marquette University in Milwaukee? Most people think of Milwaukee as the city of Laverne and Shirley, where a large percentage of the population is employed in one of numerous breweries, and citizens spend their non-working hours in bowling alleys or at fish fries. True, Milwaukee boasts more bowling alleys per capita than any other city in the country, but Milwaukee has more Equity theatres than breweries, one of which is an outstanding LORT A repertory theatre with an international reputation. The University itself features a major in classics, and offers a full complement of upper division courses in Cicero, Livy, Vergil, Horace, Roman philosophy, Roman art, and even a course in Roman comedy. The University also has classical scholars in its administrative ranks, among them Vice-president for Academic Affairs Francis M. Lazarus, author of a dissertation at Cornell University on classical anthropology and philology. Lazarus described Plautus (250-183 B.C.) as "the greatest comic playwright Rome ever produced" in an essay for the production program, and he, along with faculty members throughout the University strongly advocated presentations of "classical" drama on campus in the Evan P. and Marion Helfaer Theatre.