‘Firebugs’ to open on campus tonight
Published: Thursday, October 4, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 4, 2012 01:10
Satire is a difficult comedy to do correctly. It requires a level of background knowledge, as well as the ability to apply that background knowledge in a new and different situation, but the more one knows, the more the genre pays off.
Despite the difficulty of this style of comedy, the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Southern Mississippi will rush headlong into the 1953 play “Firebugs” by Max Frisch. “Firebugs” is a European dark comedy on the topic of facism with a run-time of about 90 minutes.
The play opens with a bit of a break in the fourth wall as one of the lead characters asks the audience to turn off all electronics, as they are a “fire hazard,” which is humorous, while it introduces the viewer to one of the major plot devices of the play.
“It is a combination of allegory, theatre of the absurd and European expressionism,” said Monica Hayes, a professor of theatre at USM.
The titular “Firebugs” is a slang term for the serial arsonists that are being hunted by an overzealous group of firefighters who have locked the city down to the extent that lighting a fire is an offense of the highest order. The firefighters are almost a constant presence on the stage, even if they are not a part of the actual scene. This serves to constantly remind the audience of the primary themes of the play.
“The allegory is so universal that it can be applied to universally from politics in the Middle East to global warming,” Hayes said.
“We wanted to take the German influence of the setting,” said Brandy McClure, a scenic design graduate student.
The set is simple but is used in many interesting ways and does not changes during the play. However, it changes the tone of the stage by using ample sound effects, dynamic lights and verticality.
“We wanted to do something the audience hasn’t seen before, and I feel we succeeded,” McClure said.
Even though satire is a comedy that requires effort from the audience, much of the symbolism is explained or heavily hinted at. The play does not try to be overly vague, so it is easy to understand, but even if an audience member chooses not to invest in the play, it is visually interesting and fun to watch. Many jokes require attention, but there is enough there that any audience member can appreciate “Firebugs” in some fashion.
For times, dates and ticket information, visit www.usm.edu/theatre/our-seas.