Three students rehearse for "The Firebugs"

Mikey Wecht ’14 (left, Chorus Leader), Madison Donoho ’17 (center, Eisenring) and Jack Massion ’14 (Biedermann) in a scene from THE FIREBUGS. Costumes by Elaine Kauffman. Photo by Emily Salswedel, ’17

Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College presents Max Frisch’s The Firebugs on Thursday, February 27, through Sunday, March 2, at the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse. The reprise (the play was originally staged and directed by K theatre arts professor Nelda Balch in 1964) celebrates the 50th anniversary of Festival Playhouse, which was founded by Balch.

The Firebugs is a satirical comedy that tells the story of Biedermann, a man who foolishly allows two arsonists into his home. Fearful of offending of them, he goes out of his way to accommodate their outrageous requests, much to his own—and others’—detriment.

A comedy that Frisch himself described as “a learning play without a lesson,” Firebugs nevertheless delivers a serious and timely message. Dramaturg Belinda McCauley ’16 says, “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, most specifically how the Nazis worked their way into the lives of average German citizens.”

Director Nora Hauk ’04, currently working on her doctoral dissertation in sociocultural anthropology at the University of Michigan, emphasizes that Biedermann chooses political correctness over what he knows to be true and right—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,” explains Hauk. “Despite all the warning signs, Biedermann fails to take a stand.”

“There are many messages one could possibly take away from The Firebugs,” says McCauley, “but perhaps the one 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 production’s design team includes Professor of Theatre Arts Lanny Potts (scenery), Elaine Kauffman (costumes), Lydia Strini ’14 (lights) and Lindsay Worthington ’16 (sound).

The show opens Thursday, February 27 (pay what you can), at 7:30 PM. Friday (February 28) and Saturday (February 28) performances begin at 8 PM. Curtain rises for Sunday’s performance (March 2) at 2 PM. For all performances except Thursday’s tickets are $5 for students, $10 for seniors, and $15 for other adults. Tickets may be purchased at the door. For more information about these and the remainder of Festival Playhouse’s golden anniversary season (including Peer Gynt) call 269.337.7333 or visit the Festival Playhouse website.