UT Theatre Department presents The Arsonists

by Alyssa Cabrera

The University of Tampa theatre department is presenting their first play of the semester, The Arsonists, playing in the Falk Theatre between Thursday, Oct. 10 and Sunday, Oct. 13. 

The play is a revision of the original production Mr. Biedermann and the Fire Starters by Max Rudolf Frisch, written in 1953 hinting at political trials in history. Some theorize that it is about the rise of Hitler and the Nazis during World War II. It has since then been reworked to become The Arsonists.

Gary Luter, UT professor of Speech, Theatre and Dance and director of The Arsonists, has taken a completely different direction with this play. He has changed the names of a few characters, modernizing them, while also bringing attention to today’s issues in politics and how they can affect society.

Luter said that this show is so important, especially in today’s day and age, because “if we don’t resist tyranny, we’re doomed”. He also said that when society can’t turn a blind eye when prejudice people are in charge, it will go extremely downhill. 

This, according to Luter, associates closely with the President of the United States and its citizens. In this play, there is a Greek chorus of firemen. “Their repetitive line, ‘woe onto us’ is an indication that things are not going well in their town,” Luter said. 

“The play’s call for resistance against tyranny has been updated and set in the United States, as Americans face unique political challenges under the current presidency of President Donald J. Trump,” said Luter.

This is the first time this show is being performed in a university in the United States and the cast members could not be more excited about it.

Actress, Karla Maiden-Vazquez, plays Karla the maid in the show. She said that she absolutely loves her role because she is the smartest person in the play, as she knows the truth of everything, and is someone very different than who she normally plays. 

“I went from being a crazy girl in ‘Yerma’ [the play prior to this one], to the smartest person in the room and it definitely is an experience because I’ve never played a smart person before,” said Maiden-Vazquez. “It’s very interesting and I really like this character”.

Luter said that the point of this show was to make it different than anything seen at UT before. People who come to see the show will be seated on the stage around the performance space. Audience members will not be able to be seated in the house of the theatre. Overflow seating will be available in the balcony of the theatre.

Luter said that the whole point of the show being on the stage with audience members surrounding, was to make it a completely immersive experience. He wants the audience members to feel as if the events taking place in the show are happening to them.

Assistant director, Sophia Williar, said that it will indefinitely make an impact on those who attend the production. 

“My favorite part of the show is the ending because you feel all hopeless and lost, and it reflects society,” said Williar. “The world is going to burn if we do not work out the flames”. 

With the audience completely captivated with the occurrences in the play, it does the job Luter wanted it to do. 

“The show demonstrates how society puts social standards before other people,” said Williar. Both the director and the assistant director want to make an impact on others in this show.

The show will begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 10-12 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. UT students and faculty receive free admission into the show with student IDs. IDs should be presented at the box office before the show.

Alyssa Cabrera can be reached at alyssa.cabrera@spartans.ut.edu

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