Brave New World
by Madison Theatre Arts Guild

Trevor Bowles, Remy Remigio, and Monica Wall. Photo by Jim Spradlin.It’s a world that has such things in it as alphas and epsilons, sterilization and civilization, soma and feelies. A world where no one is ever unhappy, where people can have whatever they want (and are bred not to want what they can’t have). A world where everyone belongs to everyone else. It’s Aldous Huxley’s classic anti-utopian novel Brave New World, adapted by David Rogers for the stage. And which recently played on the stage at Madison High School in San Diego.

The show is set more than five centuries from now, and Director Dennis Hollenbeck and his designers enjoy every minute of it. Hollenbeck and Student Set Designer Sarah Valecko created an impressive set of grays and blacks with a lot of bland symmetry, walls and doors that slide in and out to reveal new areas as needed, the main section of the stage tilted up away from the audience. Monitors are imbedded in the wall. Dave Allen and Mark Valecko’s heavy use of blue lighting on the grays leaves it all feeling stark, cold, sterile, and futuristic. And then there’s the great costumes by Kimmie Snyder that complement the set so well and distinguish the different sects of society. All topped off with the hairdos. Striking blue hair, an outrageous blond big hair for Mustapha Mond (the controller of Western Europe), and the super-hair-sprayed do of the city’s Director that looks like he’s running through a wind tunnel. In a world that encourages you to spend your money on yourself, it’s clear that hair stylists are doing well.

The story centers on Bernard Marx, a member of the alpha-plus caste who are bred for the careers needing the most intelligence. But Bernard doesn’t exactly fit the status quo. He looks different, is uncomfortable with the societal norms, doesn’t fit in with the others, and has too strong of an emotional attachment to one girl in a world where you’re supposed to casually go from one mate to another. Bernard’s uniqueness has not gone unnoticed. Like most of the others in the alpha caste, the Director doesn’t like him, and is thinking of sending him to some out-of-the-way outpost like Iceland so that he doesn’t upset the social order. But when Bernard goes to a reservation in the southwestern United States, a place where “savages” live like they did centuries ago, breeding among themselves like animals rather than being created in a lab to fill specific caste roles in society, a chance meeting gives Bernard an opportunity to become popular and save him from a desolate fate in Iceland.

Christian Beyer and Robyn Manion.  Photo by Jim Spradlin.Bernard is played by the talented Remy Remigio who captures both the awkward, nerdy personality and the selfish nature that rears its head when Bernard sees a chance to finally be accepted, and even revered, by his peers. Monica Wall is the “pneumatic” Lenina Crowne, a young woman who is considered unusual only in that she is more attractive than most, her dialogue filled largely with the lines she has been programmed to say since birth with complete ease of conscience. But when the savage enters her life, her internal confusion is well depicted by Monica. Christian Beyer is the tenderhearted and tender-faced savage John, an idealistic innocent who is thrilled at the beautiful utopia he expects to see – as beautiful, he imagines, as Lenina with whom he falls immediately in love. But what he finds is not at all like the contraband stories of Shakespeare from which he learned to read.

The cast at Madison includes a number of other impressive performances. Trevor Bowles is the self-assured, quick-to-anger Director who nicely portrays his collapse when confronted with the unthinkable. Robyn Manion exudes both unrivaled power and stately beauty as the calm, pragmatic, intelligent, and scientifically curious Mustapha Mond. Ariana Thomas is the exact opposite as John’s mother Linda, an old and ragged woman clinging to her early programming, genuinely embarrassed by what has become of herself on the reservation, confused till the end, her beta-bred mind unable to cope with her reality. Mark Lozano is Bernard’s only true friend, the easygoing Helmholtz who has a dangerous artistic passion. Laura Gregorich is a prime example of a successfully programmed citizen as Lenina’s best friend Fanny.

The ensemble does a nice job as relaxed, soma-loving alphas, not-so-bright Epsilons, “savages” who put on a fairly amusing ceremony with the help of a boom box and a Jesus Christ Superstar CD, and young students still grasping their Brave New World in which they will live an ignorantly blissful and painless life, never knowing what terrible and beautiful things they are being forever protected from.

Performs March 28-30, 2007

Rob Hopper
National Youth Theatre

~ Cast ~

Trevor Bowles, Robyn Manion, and their students.  Photo by Jim Spradlin.Director: Trevor Bowles
Mustapha Mond: Robyn Manion
Henry Foster: Cody Wiles
Bernard Marx: Remy Remigio
Helmholtz Watson: Mark Lozano
Lenina Crowne: Monica Wall
Fanny Dunn: Laura Gregorich
John: Christian Beyer
Linda: Ariana Thomas
Nero Smith: Eddie Sales
Benito Hoover: Travis Willhite
Christy Bradford
Rebecca Erbe
Sara Faure
Dan Fazziola
Morgan Hobbs
Jen Morgan
Stasia Johnston
Joe Tilley
Robert Turner
Kali Sherer
Alan Paul
Rhiana Wilson
Courtney Owens
Heather Plaschka
Victoria Quintanar
Rochelle Manion
Victoria Sanchez

Director: Dennis Hollenbeck
Assistant Directors: Lorena Pastor and Jessica Parsell
Student Director: Rochelle Manion
Stage Manager: Sarah Valecko
Costume Designer: Kimmie Snyder
Make-up Designer: Erin Sherer
Lighting Design: Dave Allen & Mark Valecko
Student Set Designer: Sarah Valecko
Video Tech Designer: Tim LaMadrid
Original Music: Robbie Kramer, Mark Lozano, & Kris Renfro
Guitarists: Robbie Kramer & Kris Renfro


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