Light Up the Night

Press Release Edited by Sarah Wallace

Fom left to right: Mikey Wecht ’14 (Chorus Leader), Madison Donoho ’17 (Eisenring), and Jack Massion ’14 (Biedermann) in a scene from The Firebugs. Costumes by Elaine Kauffman. Photo by Emily Salswedel ''16.

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College’s invites you to its Winter Quarter production of The Firebugs by Max Frisch as a part of their 50th Anniversary Season.

The play is directed by Nora Hauk ’04, who is currently working on her doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan. She has taken on the challenge of directing the second production of this play, having been performed last in 1964 by Festival Playhouse Founder and Professor Nelda K. Balch, for whom the theatre itself is named.

The Firebugs is a satirical comedy, first written in German by Max Frisch in 1953. It tells the story of Biedermann, a man who lives in a town regularly attacked by arsonists. The story begins when Biedermann foolishly lets two arsonists into his home, going out of his way to accommodate their outrageous requests out of fear of offending them.

Hauk emphasized that rather than choosing what he knows is true and right, Biedermann chooses political correctness, and this comes with dire consequences.

The Firebugs is a play about the trouble that people can get into as they try to maintain the status quo and their own social standing in the face of major challenges,” said Hauk.

“Despite all the warning signs, Biedermann fails to take a stand.”

While the play is comical, it delivers a serious message. Considering the time period and setting that it was written, it is likely that it symbolizes the way Nazis worked their way into the lives of the average German citizen.

Dramaturg Belinda McCauley ’16 shared an interpretation of the play’s meaning.

“It has been speculated for decades that Biedermann’s dilemma throughout the play is allegorical to the way humans unintentionally allow evil into their lives,” said McCauley.

Many messages can be taken from The Firebugs, but McCauley described her thought on the most vital one.

“Perhaps the one [message] to be concerned with is the way words are used. What do your words say about you? Do your words start fires? Or do your words save lives?”

The Firebugs’ design team includes Theatre Arts Professor Lanny Potts (scenery), Elaine Kauffman (costumes), Lydia Strini ’14 (lights) and Lindsay Worthington ’16  (sound).

The show will open on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 PM, and run Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and Mar. 1 at 8:00 PM. The show’s final performance is Sunday, Mar. 2 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors and $15 for other adults and may be purchased at the door. Thursday is “pay-what-you-can” night.


A Night in the Dungeon

Press Release Edited by Sarah Wallace

Maria Fornes ‘14 and Jane Huffman ’15 direct their own choice of theatre as a part of the annual Senior Performance Series.

A scene from "What She Wills: An Evening with Shakespeare" by senior Arshia Will, featuring Lindsay Worthington in white and Johanna Drentlaw in the chair. Photo provided by Arshia Will.

Two of Kalamazoo College’s students have chosen to increase the heavy winter quarter load by devoting countless hours to a daunting task–directing. From February 13-16 in the Dungeon Theatre, their own theatre will be featured for the Kalamazoo community to see.

Festival Playhouse’s Senior Performances Series is an annual fixture of the College’s Theatre Arts Department. This year, senior and junior directors Arshia Will ‘14 and Huffman ’15 will share their work. This quarter, Huffman directed Maria Irene Fornes’ Mud and Will has directed a compilation of Shakespeare scenes titled What She Wills.

Maria Irene Fornes’ play Mud is a Two Act play with seventeen scenes, in which the characters Mae, Henry, and Lloyd are swept into a dysfunctional “love triangle” by necessity and compulsion.

One reason Huffman chose to direct Mud because she sees the character Mae as later-day Antigone.

“Cunningly and aggressively, she [Mae] subverts the paradigms that oppress her. She is a mirror. She is a call to action. She is a singular voice that resounds with that of countless women who have been rendered voiceless,” said Huffman.

In What She Wills, Will also wanted to bring to life the voices of Shakespeare that were never heard, because they were never played. Every role in Shakespeare’s time was played by men, and so her play has provided an opportunity for Shakespeare’s female characters to be heard from a woman’s perspective.

“The women characters he created are complex and compelling. What She Wills takes these famous Shakespearean women and puts them into new environments and under ‘new lights.’ It illustrates how enduring and relevant Shakespeare is today,” said Wills.

Both works offer two highly contrasting portrayals of women—one places Shakespeare’s female characters in a new setting with fresh voices; the other portrays a woman’s uncompromising effort to carve out her own life amidst severe poverty and abusive relationships.

The Senior Performance Series continues the tradition of featuring the work of Kalamazoo College students creating their own theatre.

The show will open on Thursday, February 13, at 7:30pm, and run Friday and Saturday, February 14 and 15, at 8pm. The show closes on Sunday, February 16, at 2pm. Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door. For more information about these – and the remainder of Festival Playhouse’s golden anniversary season (including The Firebugs and Peer Gynt) – call 269.337.7333 or visit

The Playhouse Celebrates Fifty Years of Theater at K

By Katie Schmitz, News Editor

The Spring 2013 production of Into the Woods marked the beginning of the Kalamazoo College Playhouse’s 50th anniversary.  

Kendal Kurzeja ’16 commented that Into the Woods was a “monumental musical and an incredible piece of work.” K plans to continue with this theme of monumental work for the rest of this season, and have many other elements planned for this year to celebrate their 50 year anniversary.

Ed Menta, the Director of K’s Technical Theater, went into detail about what the school will be doing this year in commemoration.

“We put a new sign on the playhouse, donated by an anonymous donor, to showcase where the Playhouse is. Alumni and faculty will be coming in for the Reader’s Theater during homecoming week and this winter, we will be re-doing one of the shows that was done in the original season, 50 years ago, Firebug.”

In addition, the Playhouse has received new seating and carpeting and a display will be put up in the library showing scripts and posters from previous productions.

This year of celebrating the playhouse’s long time existence is also used as an opportunity to recognize everything that the Theatre Department has done for K.

“[The Department] has sent many students into wonderful careers in theater,” noted Gail Griffin, who during her time at K was very involved and attached to theatre, even serving as the interim chair of the department in 1995. “It has offered all students … an opportunity to be involved in an intensely collaborative endeavor where a lot of learning takes place.”

Kendal Kurzeja has benefited greatly from the Theater Department during her time at K. “It has provided me with a solid friend group and an awesome group of faculty to talk to,” she stated.

Although the Theatre Department has grown tremendously since its beginning, thanks to Ed Menta and the colleagues he has brought on board, there are plans for even more improvement in the years to come.

“I’d like to see it keep building as our student population keeps building. As the College grows, so will the program,” said Menta.

Griffin stated that it would be nice to see the faculty and students’ involvement increase. “I would love to see the Department have more staff so that the current staff didn’t have to kill themselves all the time!”