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Eugene Weekly : Theater : 10.6.11

 

Smart Ass, Sans Toga

Gutenberg College stages local playwright’s Socrates v America

by Anna Grace

What possible business could McMansions, frat boys, hemlock and ancient Greek philosophers have being on stage together? Plenty, if you take the trial of Socrates and drop it into present-day America. And, truly, who wouldn’t want to hear that wizened old wit’s scathing commentary of modern life?

Gutenberg professor Timothy A. McIntosh was inspired to update the story of Plato’s apology for the trial of Socrates after watching a performance of another academic’s similar work.

“It was dreadful!” says McIntosh, who performs regularly in local community theaters. “When people come to see a play, they want to see a play, not a book.”

McIntosh’s goal was to create a play that would make Plato’s classic “really approachable and enjoyable for someone who might otherwise be intimidated.”

Previous works by McIntosh include several other modern takes on classics, such as P.R., a pop opera based on The Misanthrope, and Hell, Purgatory, & Heaven: A Walking Tour, based on Dante’s Divine Comedy.

“I think students will appreciate this because Socrates is just so well spoken,” McIntosh says, noting that’s Socrates’ message of people being individuals responsible for their own actions will resonate with intelligent high-school and college students (while reminding the rest of us that we’re responsible for having gotten into this mess!).

Gutenberg alumni, professors and guest artists make up the quirky cast. Socrates will be served up with the traditional Gutenberg dinner, no sandals or togas required. -

Socrates v America runs 7pm Saturday & Sunday, Oct. 8-16, & Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 13-14, at Gutenberg College, 1883 University St.; $10 play & dinner, res. at 683-5141.