To Be or Not To Be by Miriam Laurence
Adapting Nikolai Erdman - Stalinist Russia, 1930's. Through a series of misunderstandings, Semyon Podsekalnikov's threat to kill himself is taken to heart by a collection of desperately ridiculous, self-important characters. They flock to his crowded rooming house to convince him to kill himself for their cause. Total mayhem ensues. What makes this play immediately accessible to a modern-day audience is the satire on life and human motivations of self-interest. The over-the-top plot lines bring to mind many of the characters and situations we are familiar with in television sit-coms (I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and Curb Your Enthusiasm), where the insanity of life is revealed and the protagonists themselves are not particularly noble.
The play is perfect for acting groups from teens to adults. As a high school production, it offers many opportunities to connect to curriculum; not only to Russian history, but to the critiquing of our modern-day need for fame and entitlement. As a production for more advanced actors, it is a great opportunity to create characters through any number of acting techniques, while going into a deeper examination of the underlying motif of the play; the brutality, repression and dear instilled by the Stalinist regime on its populace.
Year Printed: 2014
Running Time: 70 minutes
Male Cast: 8
Female Cast: 11
Total Cast: 19