September 18, 2000
Volume 53, No. 4
Shaw's Methuselah takes Emory stage
By Michael Terrazas
An undertaking benefitting the ambition of the Year of Reconcilia-tion, Theater Emory's fall offering will be George Bernard Shaw's Back to Meth-uselah, a five-hour marathon that will be broken into two separate performances.
The play's timeline stretches literally from the Garden of Eden in 31,920 B.C. to a point far in the future (31,920 A.D.) when humanity supposedly has "evolved" into a truly wise and just society. The play asks big questions, said co-director and dramaturge Michael Evenden, and doesn't always offer pleasant answers.
"The play was actually spurred by Shaw's rage and frustration over the first world war," Evenden said. "There is a tendency and a possibility in the discussion of reconciliation for us to all bow to the reconciliatory ideal and say that everybody should be nice, old injuries should be forgiven and so on. I think Shaw was writing out of a much more bitter place-he was a huge opponent of capital punishment in general, but he did say there were people that 'you shoot like you would shoot a tiger in a nursery' because they are not redeemable."
Back to Methuselah's two parts will be staged on alternating evenings during the production's four-weekend run from Oct. 11Nov. 4; on Saturdays and Sundays, Theater Emory will perform Part I for the matinee show, Part II for the evening. Tim Ocel directs most of the production, while Evenden is directing one of the five "acts."
"Infused by, or certainly running underneath [the play], is the whole question of evolution," said Pat Miller, acting producing director of Theater Emory. "[It's about] Shaw's whole idea of spirituality and belief in the face of a world dominated by science, the inequitable distribution of wealth, the challenge of social justice. All of those things are inherent in the question of how long you have to live to be truly mature and civil."