BSB Presenting ‘The Field’ & a Retrospective

The Brigit Saint Brigit Theatre Company Presents:


THE FIELD
By John B. Keane
&
30 YEARS: BSB IN IRELAND
2-Night Event


Brigit Saint Brigit (BSB) marks its 30th anniversary celebration of Irish culture with a full length run of
John B. Keane’s gripping and controversial play The Field, and a special Two Nights Only
retrospective 30 Years: BSB in Ireland.

The Field is an uncompromising tale that contrasts the excruciating tenderness felt by the ferocious
Bull McCabe for a field that has nurtured his family for generations, with the calculated brutality he’s
willing to wield against anyone he sees as–justly or not–threatening “his” land.

“. . . the primitive feeling of these people . . . is that a man will not do wrong unless he is under the influence of a
passion which is as irresponsible as a storm of the sea.” ~ J. M. Synge

30 Years: BSB in Ireland is a special look at BSB’s three decades of outstanding Irish theatre in
Omaha. Irish playwrights and stories have been a cornerstone of BSB since its beginning in 1993 (that
inaugural season offering the unforgettable Omaha debut of Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa). BSB
continues its 30th anniversary celebration Two Nights Only with live performances from reunited casts,
conversations with artists, video retrospectives and more! Featuring: Kevin Barratt, Tom Becker, Laura
Campbell, Terry Doughman, Jeremy Earl, Eric Grant-Leanna, Eric Griffith, Carol Knoepfler, David Mainelli, Eric
Salonis, Charleen Willoughby, Scott Working, Murphy Wulfgar, and Aaron Zavitz.

BSB’s affinity for Irish storytellers springs from their passionate love of language as a life force–vibrant, real, a
living thing. Experience and words are barely separated, and this is uniquely vivid onstage.”
~ Cathy M. Kurz, BSB Artistic Director

WHERE: First Central Congregational Church
421 S 36th Street, Omaha, NE 68131

WHEN: The Field
February 17- March 5
(Fri./Sat. @ 7:30 PM, Sundays @ 2:00 PM)

30 YEARS: BSB IN IRELAND
Thursdays 2/23 & 3/2 @ 7:30 PM

COST: $35 General Admission, $30 Student/65+/Military
WEBSITE: www.bsbtheatre.com
EVENT URL: https://www.bsbtheatre.com/thefield or https://www.bsbtheatre.com/30years

The Field cast
BSB’s production of The Field is directed by Cathy Kurz, stage managed by Sabrina Kinney, with a cast led by
Kevin Barrett, supported by Shane Staiger, Eric Griffith, Scott Working, Jessica Johnson, Austin Wright,
Charleen Willoughby, Dennis Stessman, Michael Lyon, Brent Spencer, Steve Miller, and Ryan Federico.

THE STORY

t’s 1965 in County Kerry, so the threat comes not from an outside invader, but from another villager, the
widow Butler who owns the few fertile acres and needs to sell to survive. Its passage to the river makes it
indispensable. Thady ‘Bull’ McCabe needs that field. But he can’t afford to pay the asking price which is what
it’s worth.

Yet that field, he knows in his bones, is his. His family’s blood and sweat and tending have made it his. With
ferocity and a dangerous reputation, he forces a rigged auction in which he will be the only bidder. But then,
enter an outsider. William Dee is a man who can afford to pay the higher price, an Irish expat, happy to live in
Britain, and one who believes in the primacy of the law, contracts, and the authorities that will protect him.

He doesn’t realize he’s entered a world not of man-made law but of passion and elemental force

The explosive intrigue, violence, investigation, and clerical condemnation that follow roil the small-town
community: each person struggles in a net of guilt, denial, and self-preservation. Keane’s is a plot and
examination of character that rivets.

Yet slightly beneath the playwright’s acute depiction of the events and reactions of specific characters in a
specific place and time runs a haunting undertone that’s without time or place. How much do the facts win out
over our comfort in being a member of the tribe? How do we recognize the ages-old, whispered myths that so
infuse and color our judgement? And how can we know which ones have value?

In Bull McCabe, John B. has cunningly created a character whose selfishness and brutality repel, while his
passion and tenderness for the land draw us in. Such human contradiction is the stuff of the play’s essential
power.

J’accuse la Divinite

A group of Auschwitz prisoners, waiting for their potential call to death, decide to put God on Trial to determine if He is guilty of breaking His covenant with His chosen people.  The show is playing at First Central Congregational Church under the auspices of the Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company.

Frank Cottrell-Boyce’s script doesn’t just tug at your heartstrings.  It drives a knife into your chest and gouges a hole in your heart.  It paints a brutally realistic picture of life in a death camp as the prisoners look starved and beaten and you can feel them desperately clinging to their last thread of self-control as they constantly dread the summons to the gas chamber that hangs over their heads like the Sword of Damocles.  Cottrell-Boyce’s taut and crisp dialogue really sells the trial as the prisoners argue over all facets of God.  Does He exist?  Is He just and loving?  Is He not all powerful?  Why would He allow His chosen people to suffer such an abomination?  Is He no longer on their side?  This show is really going to make you think and the utter silence I heard at the play’s end is the best tribute to its power which I can conceive.

Murphy Scott Wulfgar provides an immersive piece of direction.  The staging will make you feel like a fellow prisoner as the actors weave between audience members and perform inches from your face.  The coaching is sterling.  His performers shine in a series of monologues that will leave you feeling raw and wrung out.  The reactions of the prisoners are precise and exact.  In fact, one of the play’s strongest scenes is a moment of about two minutes of silence except for the sounds of a new group of prisoners being indoctrinated into Auschwitz (courtesy of Eric Griffith’s soundscape work).  The far-off sounds of heads being sheared combined with the fearful and haunted looks of the prisoners make it one of the best ensemble scenes of the season.

This play totally eschews the typical form for a show as there is no leading character.  Nearly everyone gets a moment to shine and provide a vital piece of the puzzle.  Some of the sensational performances you see come from Jack Zerbe who sizzles as Kuhn, a man who retains his childlike faith even in these dire circumstances and understands the true meaning of sacrifice.  Jeremy Earl gives the most honest and gut-wrenching performance of his career as Jacques, a French Jew whose use of logic leads him to a dark and hopeless place.  Michael Lyon stirs as the judge for the trial who hides a secret of his own.  Thomas Lowe pulverizes your soul as a father who watched his children taken away from him by the Nazis.

Scott Working is thoroughly believable as Schmidt, a rabbi who assumes the role of God’s defense counselor.  Always maintaining his calm, Working’s Schmidt elucidates the history of God with His chosen people and points out how serious blows to the Jewish people led to greater good for them and this period could simply be a test for them or even a purification ushering in the arrival of the longed for Messiah.  His defense of God centers around His mysterious nature and how His ways are not our ways and man’s misuse of free will.

On the other side of the table is the prosecutor, Mordechai, as essayed by Murphy Scott Wulfgar.  What I liked best about Wulfgar’s portrayal was that he ignored the obvious choice of anger.  Instead, he infuses Mordechai with an interesting blend of frustration, weariness, and logical induction.  Unlike Schmidt, Mordechai doesn’t use scripture to back his arguments.  Rather he uses the defense’s own words and examples and inverts them to prove that God is callous and doesn’t care for His special people.

Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek is spellbinding as Akiba.  Silent for most of the show, his one extended monologue manages to fuse the arguments of Mordechai and Schmidt into one combined entity.  A rabbi himself, Akiba is able to use scripture just as easily as Schmidt, but his arguments based off those scriptures support Mordechai as he argues God was never good, just merely on the side of the Jewish people.  Now, he argues, God is merely with someone else and they are suffering the fates of the Egyptians, the Amalekites, the Kenites, and others decimated by God.

Courtney Sidzyik’s simple set of wooden bunks and benches combined with a low, almost moonish, light bring a depressing reality to Auschwitz.  Charleen Willoughby’s costumes excel with the ill-fitting prison uniforms and cheaply made Star of Davids identifying the Jews and the green triangles signifying the criminals.

The church is not sound acoustically.  As such it was difficult to make out dialogue at certain points as the walls just sucked up the sound so the actors are really going to need to belt it in order to be understood, even with the audience so close.

This show is going to smack you across the face with its level of complexity.  It asks very difficult questions whose answers may be easy or hard depending on where you are on the spectrum of faith as well as shining a light on man’s hideous cruelty to his fellow man.  Yet even in all the evil and hardship, there is still the kernel of hope.  אנחנו עדיין כאן (We are still here).

God on Trial plays at First Central Congregational Church through April 17.  Showtimes are Thurs-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Tickets start at $35 and can be obtained by visiting www.bsbtheatre.com or calling 402-502-4910.  First Central Congregational Church is located at 421 S 36th St in Omaha, NE.

‘Playboy of the Western World’ On Tap for Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company

Brigit St Brigit Theatre Company Presents:

Playboy of the Western World by J M Synge

Synopsis

In the dead of night in a rural Irish town, a young man turns up claiming to have killed his own father. The locals, more interested in vicariously enjoying his story than in condemning the immorality of his deed transform him into a living legend—something larger than life… until life shows up to settle the score.

Performance Dates

Feb 14-Mar 1.  Showtimes are Fri-Sat at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.

Location

First Central Congregational Church (421 S 36th St in Omaha, NE)

Ticket Prices:  $30 ($25 for Student/Military/65+)

Brigit Saint Brigit’s 27-season long tradition of featuring Irish culture spotlights playwright and director at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, John Millington Synge’s (1871–1909) most celebrated work, Playboy of the Western World. Synge remains one of the most important figures in Irish drama and Playboy of the Western World one of the most important works in the Abbey’s long and storied existence. When first performed in 1907, Playboy caused riots due to the boldness of its storytelling and remains a vibrant, hilarious and poignant tale to this day as is evidenced by its myriad of revivals that have persisted around the world. View this Arts & Culture Link for background on Synge, ‘Playboy’ and much more…

Director:  Cathy Kurz

Cast:  Josh Ryan, Anna Jordan, Matt Cummins, Eric Griffith, David Landis, Eric Grant-Leanna, Eric Salonis, Hannah Clark, Emma Johnson and Daisy Friedman

The Monsters Are Needed at the BSB

Brigit Saint Brigit is holding auditions for our next production ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street and Other Assorted Treats’ directed by Scott Kurz. Casting will be gender/race-blind. All roles are open. All roles are paid. Roles will be tailored to suit the actor not the other way around.

When/Where: Saturday, Oct., 19 @ 1:00 PM @ UNO (Fine Arts Building Rm. 333) & Monday, Oct., 21 @ 7:00 PM @ First Central Congregational Church (421 South 36th St.)

Details: A rep company will be cast for this production. All members will be cast in ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’ and others will be double-cast in other shorts/one-acts that evening (including Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘The Long Walk to Forever,’ an original work written by the director and more…) The original ‘Monsters…’ Twilight Zone episode can be found on Netflix (Season 1, Episode 22)—this version is being updated to a contemporary setting/sensibility. This will be a fun, stimulating and collaborative production!

If you are unable to attend either night and would like to be considered for a role, please contact Scott Kurz (skurz@bsbtheatre.com).