Arts & Entertainment

Arms and the Man opens on Triad Stage

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Teresa Dale
  Staff Writer

As part of Arts Greensboro’s 17 DAYS Arts & Culture Festival, and UNCG’s War & Peace Series, Triad Stage presents George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man”. One of Shaw’s wittiest dramas will be brought to life by Greensboro’s most accoladed theater this fall.

“Arms and the Man” is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that illustrates the ineffectiveness of war and the hypocrisies of human nature. It begins in a Bulgarian town in 1885, inside the bedroom of love-obsessed Raina Petkoff. Raina is the daughter of the wealthiest man in town, and is betrothed to the embattled Serguis, a young officer in the Bulgarian Cavalry. An enemy mercenary, Captain Bluntschli flees from the battle outside and climbs into her bedroom. Flirtatious conversation begins, and a love triangle starts to unfold between the three. Shaw’s play has a typical comedy feel with its casual shifting of affections, but also exposes the naivety and many faults of its characters. It highlights the absurdity of overly romanticized patriotism and people’s obsession with romance.

George Bernard Shaw was one of the leading dramatists of his time, whose influence on Western theatre, culture, and politics has extended well beyond his death. He wrote more than sixty plays including major works such as “Man and Superman”, “Pygmalion”, and “Saint Joan.” With a body of work ranging from contemporary satire to historical allegory, Shaw is considered by some experts to be second only to Shakespeare.

The Triad Stage’s production of “Arms and the Man” will run from September 11th through October 2nd. The theater has not only been a vibrant addition to the Greensboro community as a whole, but it has also had a close working relationship with UNCG.

As the only MFA Acting program in the region, Triad Stage has worked closely with our school’s theater program to guarantee that every graduate student has the chance to appear in a professional production before they graduate. Triad Stage also employs many of UNCG’s faculty members as designers, fight directors, vocal coaches, music directors and movement coaches. Director of “Arms and the Man” and Artistic Director of Triad Stage, Preston Lane, even serves as the Co-Chair of UNCG’s MFA Directing program.  Among the cast will be current UNCG student Daniel Jenkins, and UNCG alum Caity Brewer who are making their Triad Stage debut.

Before it became the central establishment it is now, the Triad stage was known as The Montgomery Ward Building which sat vacant for almost 40 years. Fortunately in 1999, Preston Lange and Richard Whittington came to Greensboro and purchased it after leaving the Yale School of Drama. It has now turned into a tremendously successful theater that claims over 3,000 season pass holders and more than 400 annual donors. The theater has received numerous accolades on the national, state, and local level. Preston and Richard were recently honored with Downtown Greensboro Inc.’s 2010 J. Edward Kitchen Leadership Award for their contributions in making significant improvements in Greensboro.

“Arms and the Man” was published in 1898 as part of Shaw’s Plays Pleasant volume and became one of Bernard Shaw’s first commercial successes. At its premier  he was called onto the stage after the final curtain, where he received an enthusiastic response from the audience. But amidst the cheers was one criticizer who could be heard booing. Shaw famously addressed the heckler by saying, “My dear fellow, I quite agree with you, but what are we two against so many?”

There is nothing quite like live theater, so if you have never been to a live production, “Arms and the Man” would be an excellent place to start. Shaw intended for the play to be fun and energetic, but it also has deeper themes dealing with humanity’s faults in love and war. With such a compelling story, Triad Stage continues to bring important and interesting productions to North Carolina, as well as being a good opportunity to indulge in live theater and to support local art. Even though Bernard Shaw was critical of past productions, many have high expectations for the Triad Stage’s show. I for one, am looking forward to seeing it.

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