In the first moment after the ending to The Opposite of People final performance of this semester, ‘Address Unknown,” I sat and thought about the group of students who had just created and delivered this remarkable success.
Was it possible that this performance was the product of a student-run group in only its fifth semester of existence? Could it be the case that the consistency of professionalism, the pristine execution and the elevated energy surging from each actor has become the standard output of a group that is still so new?
The reason we can proudly respond ‘yes” to these questions is because of this simple fact: Our school has some very hard-working and truly talented young actors. At a rapid pace, these actors have established themselves not only as gifted entertainers but also as competent coordinators of their growing organization.
‘Address Unknown,” directed by junior Leah Barish, provides its audience with the mindset of two friends and business partners as Hitler and the National Socialist Party rise to power in post-World War I Germany. Gentile Martin Schulse, played by junior James Eles, returns to Germany while his Jewish friend Max Eisenstein, played by junior Jonathan Grima, stays in the United States to run the business.
The play then illustrates the changing outlook and increasing empathy that Martin has in relation to fascism and the rise of Nazi power, while Max’s reaction to Martin matches the audience’s shock at how effective the German propaganda can be.
In only the time span of a few letters of correspondence to Max, Martin’s mindset changes from having cautious misgivings about the rise of the Nazi party to fully rationalized support for Hitler, the leader that Martin believes Germany so desperately needs.
Even more surprisingly, Martin comes to express to his Jewish friend his belief that the elimination of Jews from German society is the best thing for Germany.
Max’s response is one of vigorous confusion as he pleads with his friend to find in himself some kind of sympathy for the people that the German government is seeking to eliminate.
Overall, Eles’s performance creates in his audience the feeling of bewildered disappointment with progressively less and less hope for his return to rationality and sympathy for the Jewish people.
Grima’s performance succeeds at providing a much-needed outlet for the emotional pain involved in witnessing the downfall of a friend’s once compassionate personality.
Senior Annalise Baird’s short yet densely dramatic appearance occurs in quite possibly the most heart-wrenching scene that TOOP has ever decided to take on.
TOOP’s success in presenting this story and the three preceding shows of ‘The Fall Collection” gives our university two reasons to be optimistic.
First, our student-run acting organization has proven itself capable of succeeding in the presentation of the entire spectrum of drama. From side-splitting comedy to jaw-dropping calamity, TOOP has and will continue to impress its audience.
Secondly, TOOP has displayed its determination for constant improvement.
New to TOOP this semester is the development of both a production team and a public relations committee.
The production team has skillfully provided TOOP with enhanced versions of sets, props and lighting that were recently only in the imagination of UR’s budding directors, while the public relations committee is drastically expanding TOOP’s welcoming voice to us.
For next semester, there is good news for people looking for free and quality entertainment after a week of stressful school work.
Fortunately, we will all have this opportunity on a number of occasions next semester, as TOOP has already begun its plans for a number of productions that we can only assume will be as dynamic and diverse as this semester’s productions have been. It’s looking upwards for TOOP’s reputation as a competent and professional acting community here on campus. When you see their shows, hold them to a high standard and see if they rise to it!
Schmitt is a member of
the class of 2011.