The farcical world of The Memorandum is a world we’ve all experienced in some ways: one in which bureaucracy is deliberately employed as an excuse for otherwise unjustifiable behavior.
Opening September 10 at 12th Ave Arts, Strawberry Theatre Workshop welcomes its audience to take an absurd look at the contemporary office, seen through the eyes of a playwright working more than 50 years ago. Václav Havel’s The Memorandum is directed by award-winning actor Paul Morgan Stetler, and features Galen Joseph Osier, Sarah Harlett, Keiko Green, Trick Danneker, and five others. It runs on the Mainstage at 12th Ave Arts through October 10.
The play concerns the tribulations of Josef Gross, a humanist in a nameless organization encumbered by the introduction of an artificial language—Ptydepe—designed to streamline office communications.
In The Memorandum, language implodes into nonsense. Office bureaucracy provides the pressure for the implosion, and by implication, the calculated government bureaucracy that was the hallmark of Communism in Eastern Europe. Like in George Orwell’s 1984, the purpose of the new language is manipulation, but Havel adds a farcical twist: Ptydepe does not belong to a coolly powerful Big Brother. Instead, those in power are equally confused, equally caught in the machine they themselves created.
The Memorandum’s satire is full of contemporary ironies: jobs created by bureaucracy to maintain bureaucracy, the importance of conformity to maintain an artificial office culture, and the relentless surveillance of workers by spies, both seen and unseen.
Michael Billington of The Guardian wrote, "The play may have grown out of experience of Czech communism; its application, however, is universal."
Director Paul Stetler is known for his accomplished acting career, including a TPS Gregory Award for The Adding Machine at New Century Theatre in 2008. The protagonist Gross is played by Joe Osier, a Strawshop regular, well-known for his lead role in Crime & Punishment at Intiman in 2009. The rest of the cast includes Seattle stage veterans and newcomers alike: Sarah Harlett (Middleton at ACT), Keiko Green (The Comparables at Seattle Rep), Trick Danneker (Othello at Seattle Shakes), and Maya Sugarman (Mary’s Wedding at NCTC) debate the tyranny of language, while Mark Fullerton, Noelle Wilcox, Katherine Grant-Suttie, and Ian Fraser maintain the office lunacy.
The production team includes Gabrielle Strong (lights), Ron Erickson (costumes), Brendan Patrick Hogan (sound & projections), Katie McKellar (stage management), and Strawshop Artistic Director Greg Carter (scenery).
12th Ave Arts
September 10- October 10, 2015
written by Václav Havel (1965)
directed by Paul Morgan Stetler
Galen Joseph Osier
designed and constructed by
Brendan Patrick Hogan
Adam Zopfi Hulse
stage managed by
Graphic Design by Melanie Wang
Social Networking by Rachel Delmar