Visit: Tragedy, romance,
and grotesque comedy
JULIE THOMPSON - STAFF WRITER
It sometimes seems that Bowdoin
students need more things to talk about. Everyone has experienced those
awkward silences at dinner, with roommates or team members, when you know
you should be talking about something, but either no one can muster
the energy to start up a conversation or there simply isn't anything worth
discussing that hasn't been hashed out many times before (election, anyone?).
Thankfully, the Department of Theater and Dance has given
us a solution to this recurring problem. This weekend, The Visit,
a play by Friedrich Dürrenmatt will be performed at Pickard Theater on
Friday and Saturday nights.
Drawing from an incredible variety of resources in the Bowdoin
community and beyond, The Visit presents a rich tapestry of lush
imagery and visual effects, intriguing social questions, and, of course,
some of the finest acting this side of Boston.
The Visit focuses on two central themes: how far people
will go for money-and how they can justify their subsequent actions-and
on a more personal level, the desire for revenge when someone is horribly
wronged. It tells the story of a woman, Claire Zachanassian (played by
Kristina Balbo '01) who is badly maligned by her lover at a young age.
She leaves the town, which in the years after her departure
falls under hard economic times. When she finally returns, she has become
the wealthiest woman in the world.
Claire offers to help the town by giving its citizens one
million dollars, but under one ghastly condition: they must murder the
man who wronged her so many years ago.
The cast of The Visit is composed of students from all different
parts of campus, and students participate in all aspects of production;
most actors even fill more than one role. Says Eric Legris '03, who plays
Claire's son, "It's such a friendly atmosphere backstage; it's like a
Of his character, he says that "the son is suffering from,
as his father would say, 'no morals or standards.' He's influenced by
the power of materialism."
He also says of the play that although "it seems like we've
been working on it for so long, we've achieved much more than we ever
As the first production by the department of the semester,
The Visit takes full advantage of the brand new, entirely updated
As glim-psed last year in the spring semester production
of Evita, the renovations that modified this space make possible
a whole host of innovations in set design and lighting which were not
feasible before its reconstruction.
Davis Robinson, professor of theater and director of The
Visit, says he is excited to be able to fully utilize "the power of
Pickard" in a show with so many "imaginative possibilities."
As Robinson states in the program, The Visit is a
play that provides unlimited opportunities to play, to create imaginative
designs, to explore characters, and to learn about the true nature of
ensemble and choral work. It is a story that swings wildly between tragedy,
romance, and grotesque comedy." This collaborative element is strikingly
clear from a sampling of the many departments involved in the play's production.
The music department especially has played a key role in
developing myriad additional effects, including an original composition
by Francis Kayali '01 which incorporates piano and choral elements into
Contributors from outside Bowdoin have also put tremendous
effort into the aesthetic aspects of the production; the costume and set
designers, Helen Rasmussen and Judy Gailen respectively, have done work
in such venues as Mad Horse Theatre in Portland, Yale Drama School, and
the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Robinson hopes that The Visit will provide an opportunity
for students and community members to get out and experience theater in
a social as well as academic context. He says of the role of theater at
"It's a way to weave cultural, social, and academic life
together, as well as an opportunity for students to participate in production."
He mentioned President Edwards' call for the college to develop a "culturally
active life," and believes that theater is an excellent way to bring out
this life on campus.
The Visit provides more than conversational fodder;
it presents an amazing array of fascinating issues that will keep audience
members pondering for a long time to come. The show is playing Friday
and Saturday(sorry, opening night was Thursday) at 8 p.m. at Pickard Theater.
Tickets are free with Bowdoin ID, $5 without ID. And while
we know how far Bowdoin students will go for $250, murder and revenge
are sure to provide much more exciting entertainment, as well as something
to think about.
wrestle with a terrifying proposition in The Visit. (Krista Friedrichs/Department
of Theater and Dance)