Idon’t wish to imply that the good folks at Chapman College deserve any less federal funding than they are getting, but I definitely think that a little too much of the money going to their drama department is being used to purchase illegal chemical substances.
I suppose you and Chapman College’s lawyers will want to know why I think that. Well, the reason is that a few months ago, I saw their production of “The Bacchae,” which is an ancient Greek tragedy, written by Aeschylus, who is an ancient Greek. If you had seen this production, you would have reached the same conclusion that I did, which was that this drama department was having some seriously disturbing cast parties.
The first sign that something strange was going on was that the program said the play would be performed WITHOUT AN INTERMISSION. This seemed odd, because EVERY play has an intermission. The reason is simple. You don’t want your audience sitting on their rear ends for two hours non-stop, or else they will start getting testy, and they’ll stop laughing when funny things happen, and they might start throwing chairs. Wise directors, therefore, always follow the two Primary Rules of the Theatre, which are as follows:
1. Always have an intermission to give your audience a chance to stretch their legs.
2. Only perform in theaters where the chairs are bolted down.
I was further alerted to the drug problem when the play began. It began with about 20 people dressed in bizarre outfits, looking like rejects from “Cats,” coming downstage and assembling themselves into four rows. Then, they all took turns chanting one phrase at a time from a speech that made no sense whatsoever, largely because it consisted of many Greek words, such as bacchus, pantheos, kilometer, and delirium.
The play was more boring than it was weird, until suddenly, from out of nowhere — and you’ll have to pay close attention here — one of the male cast members began HOWLING. Like a wolf. FOR NO REASON. Then, the four rows of weirdos ran offstage and a guy dressed only in a very very small diaper-looking thing come on. This man — presumably a college student, and not, if I may say so, a very attractive one, either — didn’t have a stitch of clothing on except for what looked like a dishtowel that he had tied on so that it covered his personal regions. He came downstage, right up to the front row of the audience, and as he spoke, he almost put a girl’s eye out.
Now, I think the reason for Wolf Boy’s sudden outburst was to cue Naked Man. They had probably rehearsed it a few times without the howling, only to find that Naked Man, all the way backstage, couldn’t hear the group’s last line, so he didn’t know when to come out. Either that, or, like the audience, he was asleep.
As for not having an intermission, my only guess is that the director was afraid if he let the audience out, they might not come back in. All I know is that the play left a profound mark on the group I was with, because on the way home, the bus reverberated with the sound of 45 high school students howling. At least WE all kept our clothes on.
I think "The Bacchae" is one of those experiences that was only funny to those of us who were there. I don't think I could accurately describe what it was like to anyone who didn't see it.
Also, I find it ironic that here I was criticizing Naked Man for appearing onstage wearing nothing but a dishtowel, and almost exactly five years later, on February 14, 1997, I appeared in a Garrens Comedy Troupe sketch, portraying Cupid, wearing nothing but an adult diaper. Of course, Naked Man was supposed to be taken seriously, whereas I was meant to be laughed at, but the principle is the same. It takes a certain kind of person to appear onstage practically naked. Especially if that person's mother is in the audience, which mine was when I wore the diaper.