February has come and left pretty quickly this year, and spring is just around the bend. When temperatures rise, so do the number of things that we’d like to do outdoors! Winter is a period where we cozy up, bunker down, and find fun things to do indoors. We play games, watch movies and television, root for our favorite teams, and enjoy the closeness of our company. Now that spring is so close, why not head to the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University and check out what the Fine Arts Department has planned for the end of this month?
Like last year, the Fine Arts Department has a number of activities scheduled to exemplify the ambitions of both the student body and the faculty. If you remember from last year, the Mount’s Fine Arts Department put on a rousing performance of Mary Zimmerman’s The Secret In The Wings. If you didn’t attend, this was a modern interpretation and retelling of classical fairy tales, made famous by The Brothers Grimm. It was an intriguing play, and provided rich new meaning into the stories whose plots we know from cover to cover. This year, the Mount’s theatre department will be airing The Metromaniacs by David Ives.
What is The Metromaniacs? Why is it worth seeing? What can you expect? Let’s get into each of these questions one at a time. The Metromaniacs is a stageplay adapted from an earlier French play from the mid-18th century. Many elements of the French play have been preserved; it contains the satirical dialogue characteristic of many performances during that period, while modifying the language to resonate with a contemporary audience. Dr. Kurt Blaugher, assistant professor of theatre and director of this performance, discussed the play in similar terms, “[The Metromaniacs] captures the Neoclassical social satire of the original play, and at the same time mixes in traditional bedroom farce with contemporary language and comic timing.”
But what is “metromania”? It isn’t a psychological term, and doesn’t touch upon something that is endemic to everyday life. What parallels can we discover that touch upon our own experiences? Clues to the meaning of the word can be ascertained if it’s broken down; it refers to the obsessive affection and enthusiasm to the creation and appreciation of poetry, hence the inclusion of “meter” in metromania. I’m sure many of us have seen Dead Poets Society, a film that emphasized the importance of creativity and individualism through the appreciation of poetry.
In many ways, I feel that many of us appreciate poetry but often within certain acceptable situations and friend groups. For instance, I’m sure that a great number of our readers would love to hear the student-written poetry that will be read aloud this year at Mount Saint Mary’s SPARC Festival, scheduled for the 25th and 26th of April. Or, similarly, we may read their poetry in the Lighted Corners literary magazine. It should be emphasized, however, that the appreciation of poetry need not be limited to circumstance! Some of the greatest writers we can name could not live without the written verse. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the Romantic writer who authored the famous poem Ozymandias, was an avid defender of his craft. In a series of essays published between 1909-1914, entitled A Defence of Poetry, he beautifully encapsulates one of the greatest strengths of poetry: imagery. He writes, “Poetry is a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it.”
Why is it worth seeing, if you don’t consider yourself a metromaniac? This play itself is not a recitation of poetry, even though that is the passion within the characters and in one of the lead characters, Damis, who falls madly in love with the craft. It is centered in France, at a time when public admiration of poetry was pervasive. Poets were the celebrities of their time, and Damis feels a strong, romantic affection for one of the most famous poetesses in France. Little does Damis realize, however, that many poets and poetesses write under pseudonyms; he feels romantically attracted to a middle-aged gentleman writing under a false name. Nelson Pressley, a theater critic for The Washington Post, commented that The Metromaniacs, “is a marvel of old and new, with punchlines that glisten with classical flair and contemporary savvy!.. The Metromaniacs is a riotous farce about upper-class twits obsessed with poetry in 18th century France.”
This play has many comedic moments, capitalizing on satire, mistaken identities and a number of plot twists! It will be a great series of evenings (and a matinee!) that is not only a great opportunity to support the Mount Saint Mary’s community, enjoy the weather outdoors, but also a fantastic way to sustain the local arts community! The first performance will take place on Thursday, March 30 at 8:00 PM, and will continue through Saturday, April 1 beginning at the same time. On April 2, the Sunday matinee will be shown at 2:00 PM. All tickets for the production of The Metromaniacs will run at $7.00. Come and support the Mount!
There are other art events scheduled at the Mount for the near future as well. The Music Department at Mount Saint Mary’s will be performing a Wind Ensemble/Lab Band recital in tribute to Sgt. Peppers. More details will be released later this month, and this two-day concert will be featured on April 21 and 22. It is difficult to minimize the influence of this famous album, and the wide-spanning effect it had on popular music. A tribute to The Beatles, and this album in particular, will an event to mark in your calendars! Stay tuned next month when added details will be discussed in depth!
Additionally, following the final production of The Metromaniacs on the 2nd of April, the Theatre Department will be showcasing the final senior projects for the coming semester. Seniors will be responsible for putting on their own plays, and if last semester’s performances are any indication, this spring’s list of performances will not be any to miss either! These will take place at 8:00 PM on Thursday, April 20 through Saturday, April 22. Check back next month for additional notes on what can be expected!
I hope that this next month, and the arrival of spring treat you well. Be sure to keep watching television, reading your novels, and if the weather is right, maybe enjoy a new book of poetry outdoors!