27 February 2007

All around the presence

Sweet Briar Theatre Presentation Makes You Think about the ‘Endgame’
By Jennifer McManamay - SWEET BRIAR COLLEGE
If all you knew about Samuel Beckett’s one-act play “Endgame” was that two characters live in trash cans, you’d think, “Oh. Like Sesame Street.
”But Beckett’s world is not like Sesame Street. It’s the stuff of our worst fears, something gone terribly wrong, something, maybe, that we brought on ourselves.
Sweet Briar Theatre will present “Endgame,” directed by adjunct SBC theater instructor Geoffrey Kershner, at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 16, 17 and 18 in the Babcock Fine Arts Center studio theater. All shows are free, but reservations are suggested and will be accepted beginning Feb. 5 by calling 381-6120 or e-mailing boxoffice@sbc.edu.
The playwright never reveals what caused the death of nature, but nothing lives beyond the walls his four characters inhabit. There is blind, paralyzed Hamm and his servant Clov who cannot sit down, and the garbage can dwellers Nagg and Nell. They are Hamm’s parents. Both are legless and going deaf and blind. All seem vestiges of humankind, and are still decaying.
Writing in the mid-1950s, Beckett might have been alluding to nuclear annihilation. “There was this sense and fear of humanity’s self-destruction,” Kershner said.
Rereading the play’s text in 2006, it struck Kershner that the danger of global warming makes “Endgame” eerily contemporary. The dialogue doesn’t deal with the issue directly, but he believes the resonance between Beckett’s time and ours will start conversations.
“This isn’t a generation that had to duck under their desks. This is a generation that’s dealing with new fears and new issues,” Kershner said. “This is a way to get them talking about it.”
A playwright of the absurdist theater movement, Beckett’s work is abstract, which appeals to Kershner. “To me, his metaphoric approach is a truer reflection of the pain and pleasure of existence than theatrical realism,” he said.
Hamm, played by Mary Susan Sinclair-Kuenning ’09, harangues Clov and the two bicker constantly. Clov (Elizabeth Caldwell ’08) talks of leaving, but where is there to go? The world outside is dead. Clov would kill Hamm, except that Hamm has the combination to the food cupboard.
There is dark humor in the foursome’s awful situations. “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I’ll grant you that,” Nell (Eugenia Hannon ’10) tells Nagg (Doug Macleod) before Hamm, angered by their talk, insists that Clov “bottle” them in the trash cans.
Kershner thinks people will take from the play a sense of hopefulness or hopelessness according to their own inclinations. His direction aims for balance. “I’m acknowledging both because I think life has both. If it’s too dark you get depressed and you get it in five minutes,” he said.
For SBC’s production of “Endgame,” Kershner is teaming up with set designer Krista Franco and sound designer Bryce Page. The three are partners in their recently established Endstation Theatre Co.
The show will be in the black box studio theater, a setting that is conducive to the play’s atmosphere, Kershner said. “The performance will happen in and around the audience, with sound throughout the whole space.”
Cheryl Warnock, SBC assistant professor of theater arts and Babcock technical director, will design the lighting. Luna Dellaporte ’08 will take on the costume design.
A pre-show dinner lecture and discussion is planned from 6 to 7 p.m. for the Feb. 15 opening. Speaker Nathan Currier will draw on training he recently attended through Al Gore’s Climate Project to talk about global warming.
The lecture will be in the Johnson Dining Room at Prothro Hall. Dinner prices with a Sweet Briar ID are $5.50 for adults, $2.75 for children ages 3 to 11; and $6.75 for adults, $3.50 for ages 3 to 11 without an ID.
For information, call (434) 381-6120 or e-mail: boxoffice@sbc.edu.

1 comment:

(^oo^) bad girl (^oo^) said...

i like......