Too Clever By Half or Diary of a Scoundrel as it is commonly known is the story of Glumov, a young man from the lower class, who climbs to the highest strata of Russian society using only his charm, good, looks and guile. Just when Glumov seems to be at the pinnacle of his climb up the social ladder, he finds himself tumbling back down, undone, quite literally by his own hand. It is a story of human nature and the weaknesses we all possess. The play is witty and charming and like all classics it is timeless.

However, for me, it is not the plot or the characters that makes this production special but rather what the production itself represents for Studio Six. Too Clever By Half was important because it was our first step. It was our first attempt as a fledgling company to produce a play on our own. For me, it represented a leap of faith. It was a leap into the unknown and a bold declaration that we had arrived.

I distinctly remember the feeling of jumping across a canyon into thin air and not seeing or knowing if the other side was even reachable. During the uncertain time that was our rehearsal period, the company showed its training to its fullest potential. Company members, who up until then had only known the work of acting suddenly became costumers, painters, stage managers, marketing strategists and every other job you can possibly imagine (all this while maintaining the high level of ensemble acting and long rehearsal hours that our training demanded of us) The company worked tirelessly to bring this first attempt to the stage. We worked without knowing exactly where we would land. One of my most distinct memories is spray painting masks for the show on the sidewalk outside the theater, in costume, just minutes before curtain.

I don’t know if it was the still drying paint fumes on my mask but I remember a feeling of euphoria when we did the curtain call on that opening performance. Feelings of relief, joy, exhaustion, and gratitude flowed over me all at once. We had presented our work as we had been trained to do and it seemed to me that the audience had accepted whole heartedly our brand of theater. My feeling was confirmed when we received our first review:

…if Studio Six delivers in future productions on the promise created in this one, there could be a paradigm shift in the quality of work in town.

… the results on stage at the Connelly Theater speak for themselves: a brisk, healthy, charming comedy using a high-level of inner and outer character work. They speak well. They move well. They bring truth and they listen to one another on stage. In short, this is the kind of work I expected to find in abundance when I moved to the City but found sorely lacking. The biggest surprise? They seem to genuinely be there for each other. Whether they have intense dramatic scenes, comedic bits of business, or are simply holding up a piece of scenery, each actor seems to be giving what is necessary to make the best happen for the play. Others may be as well-trained; few are as free of ego and pretentiousness.

It is the ensemble that makes this company unique. It is a unique method of training that produces a fully functional ensemble of actors and not simply good actors. It is four years together that forged what we are. It is the giving up of the individual and the commitment to the ensemble and the work that has carried us throughout the years. We have gone on to produce several more successful productions. Each production has garnered both critical as well as popular support. We have refined our operational procedure. With each new production we become more and more adept and confident in what we do and how we do it. However it was the madness and boldness with which we began that will always keep Too Clever By Half in a special corner of my heart. It is boldness that defines the work of Studio Six and it is boldness that will continue to sustain this company in the years to come.