Saturday, August 24

Playwright sparks discussion among theater students


When the topic is an on-campus theater production with even a
speck of hype, theater students are almost biologically inclined to
put in their two cents.

“Of course, everybody’s going to have an opinion
““ we’re all theater students. Everyone will be saying
either “˜this sucks,’ or “˜this doesn’t
suck,’” said Elif Erturk, a first-year theater
student.

The UCLA theater program’s productions of playwright
Charles Mee’s “Orestes 2.0″ and “True
Love” this past November (also returning for another short
February run) saw their share of hype, which means that more than a
couple pennies were thrown into discussion. Third-year theater
student Cristina Bercovitz offered her thoughts on her favorite
part of “Orestes 2.0″ ““ its depiction of
self-justification.

“One of the characters, a mental patient, had a long
speech about how he justifies things for himself,” said
Bercovitz. “He goes on and on about how he killed all these
people. He’s in jail so the system hasn’t forgiven him,
but in his mind, he forgives himself.”

Theater students and the public can direct their questions and
comments at Mee himself during a question-and-answer session
following the performance of “Summertime” this Saturday
at 8 p.m. at Macgowan Little Theater.

Bercovitz admitted that “True Love” was more of a
challenge; a puzzle she has yet to fully solve.

“What Mee does is he takes pieces and bits of things and
combines them together. I was in class at the time and was told
that one of the pieces that (the production team) used was
different from the original text. So I approached it from an
entirely different perspective “¦ I got really muddled with
that one.”

“We had a big discussion about whether the play was about
sex ““ what it is to be a sexual creature, your preferences
and pervasion ““ or about love. I think obviously the play is
really about love. It’s called “˜True Love,’ and
it’s a great love story.”

“I like how it tackles a lot of issues in a really
thoughtful manner,” said Andrew Shafer, a first-year theater
student. “I also like the fact that it took risks, and took a
Greek myth and was able to make it relevant to today’s
audience ““ though it was a little wordy at times.”

Although she appreciated “True Love” for dealing
with taboos such as incest, Erturk was not a fan of its
execution.

“I don’t like how (the issues) were unresolved in
the way they did it. Someone would come out with a monologue and
that would be the end, and it would be choppy,” said Erturk.
“I thought the actors did a good job in their
characterizations like how they portrayed the New Jersey
girl’s feminist attitude. But the direction was choppy
“¦ that was the downfall.”

“It’s really inspiring to have a playwright
who’s so free with his work, and wants it to be produced and
wants it to be played with,” said Bercovitz.
“It’ll be interesting to see what he thinks of what our
school has done with it and what other people have done with it.
(The plays) are really complex, and I’m totally intrigued by
the parts I don’t understand, not turned off by
them.”

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