Oct. 31, 2012 - Issue #889-Human Trafficking Problem
Directed by Trevor Schmidt
Timms Centre for the Arts, $11 – $20
Václav Havel was way ahead of his time when he wrote The Memorandum in 1965. A Czech playwright, Havel was imprisoned as a political dissident, yet also served two terms as the ninth and last president of Czechoslovakia, as well as the first president of the Czech Republic.
"The play definitely has a very political agenda behind it," states Trevor Schmidt, guest director of Studio Theatre's upcoming production of Havel's The Memorandum.
It tells the tale of an office worker in a large organization who receives an inter-office memo written in a new language that he doesn't understand; attempting to have the memo translated results in a roundabout web of bureaucratic red tape and unhelpfully flamboyant characters. ("We keep saying to the actors, 'You have to act as big as your wig,'" says Schmidt.)
"This new language has to be impersonal, with no emotional overtones; and if you have that emotional overtone then it breaks down all communication," Schmidt states. "There's much made of the main character being humanist. Everyone should be an individual; everyone needs to develop their own personality and own ideas about things. Obviously he was soft peddling his political agenda at the time, because of the political climate in his country."
Yet while The Memorandum may be a product of Havel's political views, his focus on the breakdown in language and communication also calls up an eminently relevant issue in our contemporary age of technology; everyone has experienced problems with tone and message in emails, online chat and texts.
The Memorandum's original script calls for a cast of 11 men and three women, but in this production Schmidt is working with a cast of four women and two men—causing a significant reworking of several characters.
"In this particular production all of the higher-level executives in the company are women," he states. "It made sense to set it in that Mad Men-era where women were flowing into the workforce, getting better jobs." Other changes include purging the British colloquialisms from this translation and paring down the script from its original three-hour run time.
"One thing that might be a common misconception is that the show might be dark and serious and dry, because of what people perceive the subject matter to be," explains Schmidt. "But it's definitely lively and entertaining and fun: there's lots of smacking people on the butt—everybody likes that!" vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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