Theatre Department Press Release
The Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College will present The Gas Heart by Tristan Tzara, translated by Michael Benedik and Wooed and Viewed, by Georges Feydau, translated by Norman Shapiro Feb. 12-15. The shows are part of the Senior Performance Series, which allows selected seniors to step out of the role of actor or crew member and into the role of director.
Joseph Westerfield ’15, Director of The Gas Heart, notes that Tzara prefaces the piece as, “…the only and greatest three act hoax of the century; it will satisfy only industrialized imbeciles who believe in the existence of men of genius.” The Dada movement, based on anti-art, anti-war sentiments, focuses on the detachment of words with reality.
“This student production questions the conventions of normative theatre and invites the audience to participate in their emancipation as a spectator,” explains Westerfield.
The French farce Wooed and Viewed also defies societal expectations. While the audience will find the costumes elegant and the living room setting familiar, the intentions of Emma (played by Emma Franzel ’17) come as a surprise as she defies the traditional role of the passive woman and instead orders a stranger to make love to her to provoke her husband’s jealousy.
According to Director Arik Mendelevitz ’15, Emma has in fact “made herself an other, but not the other she is told to be. Women, especially when it comes to sex, exist in a marginalized place in our society where they are told that their role is to put themselves on display for men to come by and window shop.”
To make his point, Mendelevitz has chosen to present the play using a deconstructionist approach. In fact, Mendelevitz has written a philosophy paper on the play which he will present at the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters at Andrews University, Berrien Springs this March.
“Just as the dancer leaves the safety of the ground she knows so well, so too does a deconstructive reading leap in order to explore new possibilities that would be impossible if it had stayed on the firm, familiar ground,” explains Mendelevitz. “It is through art (which is always singular) that we are able to, for a moment, escape our final vocabularies. Art exists in relation to our world, yet simultaneously steps outside of it.”
The Gas Heart and Wooed and Viewed are being produced in the Dungeon Theatre located in the lower level of the Light Fine Arts Building at Kalamazoo College. The shows open on Thursday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m., and run Friday, Feb. 13 and Saturday, Feb. 14 at 8 p.m., with a final performance on Sunday, Feb. 15 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door one-hour prior to the performance. For more information about the 51st season at Festival Playhouse, call 269.337.7333 or visit www.kzoo.edu/theatre.