This January, Flat Earth Theatre celebrates the legacy of legendary Czech playwright, president, and revolutionary leader Václav Havel with a production of his absurd comedy,The Memorandum, in an English translation by Vera Blackwell. When an office abruptly adopts a new "scientific" language, Ptydepe, a bewildered executive is forced to navigate a labyrinth of red tape in an effort to have an indecipherable memo translated. First performed in Prague under the shadow of Soviet-backed totalitarianism, The Memorandum lampoons the bureaucratic appropriation of language with a satirical spin still representative of today's global office culture.
Director Victoria Rose Townsend's treatment examines the thin line between our recognizable reality and a world of bureaucratic chaos evocative of Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Mike Judge's Office Space. The language of Ptydepe, intended to optimize efficiency and accuracy in communication, is brought to life with the help of company linguist Devon Jones, who worked with the cast and director to create order and meaning from the untranslated gobbledegook of Havel's absurd linguistic creation.
The Flat Earth production accentuates the humor and camaraderie in the adventures of Josef Gross, whose unexpected wanderings through the ranks of his department inadvertently parallel Havel's own improbable journey from protest playwright to political prisoner to president. When he receives an interoffice memo in Ptydepe, Gross discovers that affairs in his department are not entirely under his control. Without proper documentation, the befuddled Managing Director finds himself running in circles in search of a translation. To complicate matters, the Deputy Director attempts to usurp Gross's job, everyone in the Ptydepe Translation Center has gone to lunch, and the Staff Watcher is keeping a close eye on the supply of cigars. Yxap tseror najx!
The Memorandum runs January 11th through 19th in the Black Box Theater of the Arsenal Center for the Arts, 321 Arsenal Street, Watertown. Performances are at 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, with a 2PM matinee on Sunday, January 13th. Tickets are $20 when purchased in advance through http://flatearththeatre.com or by calling 1-800-838-3006, or $25 (cash only) at the door. Students with valid ID can purchase $10 student rush tickets at the theater starting one hour before the show, and there will be a Pay-What-You-Can performance on Thursday, January 17th at 8PM.
Flat Earth Theatre has been collaboratively crafting paradigm-challenging theatre in greater Boston since 2006. Recent productions include the world premier of Pirate Lives! The Musical! last spring, and August's The Pillowman featuring the shadow puppetry of Woellert&Clark. Flat Earth's 2013 season at the Arsenal Center for the Arts continues in April with Enigma Variations by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, and concludes in August with Steven Dietz's Rocket Man.
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