Katie Doolittle – Staff Writer
The Gustavus Theatre department is presenting its Spring production of Fewer Emergencies written by Martin Crimp and directed by Henry MacCarthy. The show is open on Thursday, May 11 through Saturday, May 13 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, May 14th at 2:00 p.m. in Anderson Theatre.
Fewer Emergencies is the title of one of the three short plays that will be taking the Gustavus stage. Face to the Wall and Whole Blue Sky in addition to the title name explore the nature of violence versus the dynamics of contemporary satisfaction.
According to the sneak peek description of the show on the Gustavus Theatre webpage on the Gustavus website, “From the acute anxiety of suburban life to mass murder to a drawer that, if pulled open, spills out chainsaws and harpsichords, and the city of Paris with a cloth over it to keep the dust out,” are some highlights of the production.
For Theatre Honors and English double major, Senior Sam Peters regards this piece of theater as inquisitive and thought-provoking. “Fewer Emergencies explores a wide range of themes, but the overriding message is its critique of the ‘culture of contentment’. By examining the luxury and excess of modern life and contrasting them with the violence and alienation produced by this lifestyle, the play calls the audience to think deeply about our personal priorities and privileges,” Peters said.
“This work is challenging because you’re finding a way to inform the audience and yourself,” Theatre and Ancient Greek studies double major, Senior Gena King said.
“I think the focus of the show is about horrors that society overlooks. It connects three different scenes while subtly giving background info about the main character. Its intent is to make the audience think about this,” said First-year Theatre major Julia Nelson.
As an actor in the production, Peters has taken on a rhetorical journey. “I find this work to be particularly compelling in its openness to interpretation. The dialogue is vivid, complex, and thought-provoking, which has provided me with an endless puzzle of considering what my character means in every line,” Peters said.
“I don’t relate too much to this work because it’s very extreme, but I do enjoy how well-written the three parts are. Each part has references to the other two that may not be caught right away,” Nelson added.
“This work is relatable because we live in a dangerous world and it is very easy to forget to have perspective,” King said.
The production’s experimental nature causes its actors to dig deeper within their theatrical craft. “Fewer Emergencies has been a process of learning what the play is about as we go along. Since there are no character names, stage directions, or established setting, we have been tasked with developing our own ideas about the emotional undercurrents running through our interactions onstage,” Peters stated.
Even though Fewer Emergencies is more hands-on, it has been well worth its efforts. “It’s a lot of repetition in order to hammer each piece into place. It takes a lot of commitment and it can be tiring, but I’m glad I had this opportunity to work on this kind of project,” Nelson said.
“Preparation for this kind of work requires greater focus than a more light-hearted piece. I enjoyed the opportunity to be challenged,” King added.
As a graduating senior, this production has stood out for Peters. “Because of the play’s ambiguous nature, it has been much more experimental than other shows I have worked on at Gustavus. Fewer Emergencies has been all about asking ‘what if?’ and making bold artistic decisions,” Peters said.
The show stands out from its counterparts, but there are cautions as to who should see this production. “This show has themes that can be triggering and are not for kids. The point in the discomfort of the show is to make the audience think about why they feel the way they do. I’ve gained experience in portraying a character I’m not used to seeing in theater,” Nelson said.
For its adult and mature viewers, Peters hopes to see the audience impacted by its various themes, “I hope that the audience finds a way to relate their own experiences to those described in the play. While the stories contained in Fewer Emergencies are different from a conventional dramatic narrative, they are highly evocative in the questions they raise.”
“This unique mix of surrealism and sincerity is what makes the play compelling. Personally, this play has made me question my own assumptions and ideals, leading me to think about how I participate in the cultural practices it investigates,” Peters added.
As previously mentioned by Nelson, it’s important to note that the production contains strong adult themes and should not be seen by children or immature audience members.
Tickets are available at gustavustickets.com.