OSWEGO — Video, still photos and sound and scene design all will work to add sizzle to the SUNY Oswego theatre department’s Oct. 17 to 19 and 25 to 27 staging of “Fahrenheit 451,” based on Ray Bradbury’s iconic book and play about censorship of the written word.
The play will preview at 8 p.m. Oct. 17, and run at 8 p.m. Oct. 18 and 19, 25 and 26, concluding with a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Oct. 27. All performances will be in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre.
Bradbury published “Fahrenheit 451” — the title refers to his understanding of the ignition point of paper — in 1953, adapting it for the stage in 1979. His is a dark vision of banned and burned books in an unnamed future American city where the power in government considers creative thinking dangerous.
Costume designer Kathleen “Kitty” Macey, a professor of theatre at the college, said faculty scene and lighting designer Ola Kraszpulska, sound designer and senior theatre major Patrick Ostwald and film director-cinematographer Jacob Dodd of cinema and screen studies “have come up with some novel ideas” in cooperation with director Mark Cole, professor of theatre.
“A lot of really cool pieces are coming together,” said Macey, who added that the DeWitt Fire Department added realism to the book-burning scenes by loaning bunker jackets from its volunteer stock to the production.
Color of creativity
Video will play a particularly vivid role, especially during the final scene of the play, which summons some of history’s top thinkers and imaginative writers — Aristotle, Plato, Tolkien and Wilde among them — to the stage.
“‘Fahrenheit 451’ was one of my favorite books from when I first read it in high school,” Dodd said. “I said (to Cole), ‘I can’t pass this up. What do you have in mind?'”
The charcoal-gray and brown palette of early scenes evokes a darkness that follows career firefighter Montag (Keith Gallucci), whose job calls for him to burn books and the homes of those who hide books. Montag’s redemption begins when he meets 17-year-old Clarisse (Clarissa Bawarski) and her grandfather, Professor Faber (Nicholas Cocks).
Dodd said the video in the final scene — filmed with a 1950s-era Bell & Howell camera and Kodak color film — creates the warm, inviting, retro feel of intelligent discussion based on learning and literature.
“It expands the world,” Dodd said. “The themes are timeless. I could relate to the fact that in this world, people are isolated. That’s how the people in power want it to be. … If they are together, people will start discussing and sharing ideas. Why not provide their escape through this new portal of film for the final scene?”
All tickets for the preview of “Fahrenheit 451” cost $5; run-of-play tickets are $12 ($7 for SUNY Oswego students) except for the $10 Super Saturday special on Oct. 19 for tickets purchased online. Tickets are available at all college box offices, online at tickets.oswego.edu and by calling 312-2141.
Parking is included in the price of the ticket, and is available in the employee and commuter lots in front of and to the east of Culkin Hall, off the main college entrance on State Route 104.