‘The Arsonists’ seeks to make a symbolic statement

April 17, 2018

Rachel Librach

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Making a statement through performance can be an important aspect of theater. For students performing in “The Arsonists,” provoking discussion through their craft is their goal.

    Student-directed Theatreworks production “The Arsonists” will premiere in the Osborne Studio Theater on April 20 at 8 p.m. The show, which runs for two hours, will play during the weekends of April 20 and April 29 only. Tickets are free for students.

    “The Arsonists,” written in Germany in 1953, depicts a group of fire-starters who make their way into people’s houses and burn them down.

    At the time the play was written, it was considered to be a response to the Communist takeover in Prague; however, the play was considered to be a metaphor for Nazism and fascism. The plot is symbolic for director Jareth Spirio, a senior theater major.

    “It’s the willful ignorance of society to see what is going on right in front of them. Whether that’s fear-driven or just pure ignorance, it’s the whole ‘it can’t happen to me’ mentality. It’s a dark comedy that encompasses the willful blind eye to what is going on in the world,” he said.

     Spirio has worked on “The Arsonists” for the past two years. He wanted to go above and beyond in incorporating as many departments as he could into the production. According to Spirio, film, museum studies and visual arts concepts will be incorporated in the show.

    “One of the things I’m really proud of is that I am having theater and dance work together. Jordan Frazier, who is my sound designer, composed all the music for the show,” he said.

    According to Spirio, being able to pull together so many talents within VAPA and present “The Arsonists” to the public brings meaning to his desire to be involved with visual art.

    “I think there’s a lot of good things people can add to society and humanity. Whether it is opinion or fact, there is always a reason why people will say it is nonsense; however, if you put it in the form of art, suddenly

    Frazier, a senior music composition and sound design major, composed all original music pieces for this play. Timber orchestration is set to particular moments in the show, including fine-tuned violins, cellos and electronic sounds.

    “The way I came across the ideas for these pieces is quite simple: it was reading through the play and finding particular moments that drove for a specific type of sound. From a fire truck needing to be going by, to an explosion that just happens out of nowhere,” Frazier said.

    “You cannot show life without music. It’s our heartbeat; it’s the timbers in the voice. To have a play without music is to not be able to fully do a play justice.”

    Spirio specifically chose “The Arsonists” not only because of his fascination with the piece, but also because he wishes to memorialize one of his greatest mentors, Murray Ross.  

    “The founder of Theatreworks, Murray Ross, was a very dear mentor. I got into professional theater in Colorado Springs because of him; he gave me my break. ‘The Arsonists’ was the first play Theatreworks ever did in Colorado Springs,” Spirio said.

    “I proposed this play during his directing class, originally, and he said that I should turn this into a production because it’s one of my favorite plays, and I think it is really relevant to the time. He was working with me one-on-one a lot. Unfortunately, he passed away just before he found out it got approved,” he said.

    Being self-taught in dance choreography and his love for creating pictures and movement routines has had a big impact on his directing skills.

    “I think I have a pretty decent eye for movement and comedic timing and understanding of things just based on what my professors have given me. So, I decided to take a whack at it outside the world of choreography and small pieces and go for a big one,” he said.

     Avery Zaleski, a senior theater major, plays Eisenring, one of the arsonists. She explained the motives behind her character’s decisions.

    “To the arsonists, this is entirely a game, they are doing this for fun. That’s the scary part. When I step back and look at my character, it’s terrifying. She doesn’t care how she is affecting these people that she is burning down, it’s all a game,” she said.

    Students should see the play because it will make them reflect on their role in society, said Zaleski.

    “Theater is a reflection of life and good theater makes you think, and I think that is very important to keep that alive in this society. In modern day, we forget that human connection that can happen. Especially for our generation, I think that is why it is important for students to come,” she said.

    Spirio believes that the play is relevant to current events.

    “It gives a really nice representation of what is going on in the world; it’s the reason we are having a Talk-Back after so you can discuss what is going on. This play pushes the boundaries of what a play is, a lot of the stuff that goes on breaks the fourth wall completely,” Spirio said.

    “It’s nice to remind yourself sometimes that you can have a play that gives a statement, is entertaining, and makes you learn all at the same time.”