Last Friday, The University’s theatre department opened The Memorandum, a 1965 play written by Václav Havel. The production is a black comedy which entangles themes such as authority, conformity, and political commentary. The University’s website gives the following synopsis:
“An anonymous corporation introduces a new corporate language under the guise of improved efficiency and accuracy of truth and meaning, but the real goal is disruption of the corporate, governmental and civil systems and to place control in the hands of a few. In the end, the people’s truth wins out with a final message before everyone goes off on a lunch break spoken by the play’s central character, Mr. Gross.”
Aside from Director Chris Beach and Technical Director Trevor Norton, the production is being put on exclusively by students. The Memo has been in the making for two months.
Josef Gross is being played by lead actor Thomas Johnston, a freshman. Gross is the managing director of an accounting firm when the new language undermines his authority.
To perspective viewers, Johnston said:
“You should definitely see it, especially in this political climate. This show helps highlight some of the societal problems we are facing today.”
Olivia Yokas, a supporting actress and sophomore, spoke to its social and political commentary. She noted how its creator, Vaclav Havel, ascended from playwright to President of Czechoslovakia. The Memo’s language is meant to take human emotion out of language, despite Mr. Gross’ opposing philosophy.
“I play a character who studies the language and knows the language,” Yokas said. “I work in a translation center in which I authorize which specific texts can get translated to the mother tongue.”
Tickets are $8 for students (with ID) and seniors. General admission is $12. The Memo opened in the Glenn Wallichs Theater Friday night at 7 p.m., and subsequent performances will be on Nov. 16 and 17 at the same time.