Almost 100 years after Peary and MacMillan made their storied trek to the North Pole, another Bowdoinite will journey North in search of a polar bear. Unlike his predecessors, however, he won't poach and stuff his furry friend?he'll fall in love with it. This romance is the subject of The Thing About Hunting Polar Bears, a new play by James Nylund '06, which premieres tonight in Wish Theater as part of the Bates-Bowdoin One Acts festival.
The Thing About Hunting Polar Bears shares the bill with two other new plays: A Formal Exercise in Class Dynamics, written by Matt Lajoie '05, and Time Cavern of Two: Trouble in Time Cavern, written and directed by Bates seniors James Getomer and Jonathan Horowitz. Bates students will also perform Madeleine George's The Most Massive Woman Wins tonight and Adam Rapp's Finer Noble Gases on tomorrow night.
In past years, Masque and Gown featured plays written solely by Bowdoin students in its annual One Acts festival. This year, however, the organization joined forces with Bates' student theater group, the Robinson Players, to create a multi-school festival. Colby students initially intended to participate as well, but scheduling conflicts prevented them from doing so.
"[Masque and Gown has] been talking with the three colleges since my freshman year about trying to get together. This year it all worked out that we could have performances on the same weekend," said Masque and Gown President Leo Landrey '05.
Time Cavern, The Most Massive Woman Wins, and Finer Noble Gases performed at Bates last weekend to sold-out houses, according to Outreach Director Brad Oriel '06, for the Robinson Players. Time Cavern concerns such historical figures as Jesus and Andrew Jackson, among others, who are stuck in a "time cavern" and are desperate to escape. The Most Massive Woman Wins, in which four women meet in a liposuction clinic waiting room, focuses on body image, while in Finer Noble Gases, members of a failing rock band navigate early adulthood.
Both of the Bowdoin shows were developed in the Theatre Department's playwriting class last semester. A Formal Exercise in Class Dynamics, directed by Torin Peterson '07 and Ruo Ruo Zhao '05, is the tale of two men stuck in the right front pocket of French actor Gérard Depardieu's favorite pair of gray slacks. As the two protagonists strategize their escape, Depardieu is negotiating his role in the film Cyrano de Bergerac.
"My first experience with Gérard Depardieu was in French [class] in high school," Lajoie said. "We watched Cyrano de Bergerac without subtitles and I was frustrated that I couldn't understand what was going on. I wanted to be able to harness that frustration and express it in a play seven years later."
Lajoie hasn't been involved in the production process, but he said he looks forward to seeing how the directors interpreted the script.
"Some things written into the script are almost impossible to stage. There's a ten foot replica on stage of a hand that pushes people around, crushes objects, and plays in the space. I have no idea how it's going to be done and I'm excited to see how they're going to do it," he said.
Nylund said he's also eager to see how directors Ivano Pulito '08 and Alex Williams-Bellotti '08 staged The Thing About Hunting Polar Bears. Three of the play's six scenes are without dialogue, leaving much of the action to interpretation.
Tickets for the Bates-Bowdoin One Acts Festival are available for $1 at the Info Desk and at Wish Theater. The performances start at 7:00 p.m. tonight and tomorrow night.