“I’ve been describing the show to people as a mash-up between Monty Python and the Canterbury Tales,” Jodie Morgenson said of “Geoffrey Chaucer’s Flying Circus.”
Morgenson is the director of Platteview High School’s fall play this year. She is also an English teacher at Platteview, and jokes throughout the show reference the fact that students read selections of “The Canterbury Tales” in her world literature class.
“Any time I can spark an interest in medieval literature, even through silly means, I do it,” Morgenson said.
Sarah Grubb, a junior who plays the Wife of Bath, said the show features 15 stories.
“Chaucer wanted to write 120 stories,” she said. “Each pilgrim has their own story, and each story has its own lesson.”
Grubb said her lesson was about marriage. The tale involves a knight who must find out what women want most of all.
The Wife of Bath’s tale is one of the more well-known stories in the Canterbury Tales, as is the Miller’s tale.
“Harry Bailey, the innkeeper character, keeps chasing the Miller offstage so he never gets to tell his story,” Grubb said.
“It’s terrible,” said Leah Hagerty, a senior in charge of hair and makeup. “It’s a really dirty story.”
In addition to the running gag with the Miller, Monty Python references also recur throughout the show. The script for “Geoffrey Chaucer’s Flying Circus” had several Python references already worked in, but Morgenson’s students decided to add more.
“We had a Monty Python party to do some research, but some of the students have done research on their own as well,” she said. “They came up with additional references to things like the Knights Who Say Ni and the horse sounds being made with coconuts. That’s the magic of theatre right there.”
Grubb said she hopes all the references to “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” make the cut.
“It’s a really classic movie,” she said. “My dad watches it all the time.”
Of course, there are also references for the younger generation.
“Every year we try to make some kind of major pop culture reference, and this year is no exception,” Morgenson said. “I don’t want to give it away, but it’s a viral video that people will know.”
Those interested in checking out the show should head for Platteview High School’s auditorium on Friday at 7 p.m. or Sunday at 2 p.m. There won’t be a show on Saturday due to a band competition.
“At least a third of our 45 students in the cast and crew are in band, if not half,” Morgenson said. “Students in this district are involved in everything.”
As if to prove her point, Hagerty and Grubb shared their weekend schedule, in which play rehearsal was only one of several commitments
The two were at Platteview’s football game on Friday, in a marching band competition on Saturday, at show choir and fall play rehearsal on Sunday and back to school at 7 a.m. the next day for more show choir rehearsal.
“We do our homework backstage or stay up until midnight,” Grubb said. “It’s super stressful, but everyone is there for you if you’re having a bad day. Everyone in the show is such a good person, and we’re all so close.”
“It’s like a family,” Hagerty added. “This is my fourth year doing the fall play, and I keep coming back because these are the people I’m closest to.”