Don’t take The Mexican Play too seriously. It really is satire.
“It’s the tale of a tragic figure, Richard Anderson, who is a sexist-racist-homophobe,” says playwright David Ruzicka, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design. “He’s being sucked into a maelstrom.
“I wanted to write a social play, not necessarily a political play,” he says. “It’s centered on illegal immigration. I wanted to find more basic truths, see how we relate to the concept of xenophobia.”
Ruzicka is majoring in dramatic writing and has a compelling need to write. “I began as a production design major and switched to a dramatic writing major when it was created,” he says. “I’ve written two full-length plays and a screenplay.”
When Ruzicka decided to change majors, he talked with Dr. Joseph Klein, SCAD’s performing arts department chair. “I had a one-act script with me,” Ruzicka says. “He liked it.”
Performing arts professor Laurence Ballard was looking for a play to direct, and Klein suggested The Mexican Play. “Now we’re up to draft seven,” Ruzicka says.
This isn’t Ruzicka’s first production. “I had three one-act plays staged during the winter quarter,” he says. “It was a collaboration between the performing arts department and the interior design department.”
Having his work produced has been an interesting experience, Ruzicka says. “There are bizarre twists at any moment,” he says. “The first thing I noticed is hearing my words said out loud. A number of people in the cast are surprised I’m not showing overt signs of agony.
“But I’m surprised at how painless and how much fun it’s been,” Ruzicka says. “There aren’t as many problems as I anticipated.”
This is the first time a student has written one of SCAD’s major stage productions. Ruzicka recently attended the Pacific Playwrights Festival to network and meet other playwrights and learn how to market his work.
However, Ruzicka didn’t set out to be a playwright. “My parents tried to push me into the direction of writing but I tried to pursue more logical fields,” he says.
For a time, Ruzicka wrote poetry before turning to drama. “Something about dialogue feels absolutely right to me,” he says. “I hear voices in my head from my characters and see images.
“I didn’t set out to write a controversial play,” Ruzicka says. “The rest of my stuff is more like Theater of the Absurd. I can’t explain where The Mexican Play came from.”
Ballard is delighted to be directing The Mexican Play. “The poster says it’s a satire fashioned around xenophobia,” he says.
“Dr. Klein, our department chair, said, ‘Read this play from a youngster.’ I read it and we had a meeting that lasted maybe 90 seconds. I said, ‘Why wouldn’t we do this?’”
Satire can be dangerous if it’s misinterpreted. “Comedy is an ice cream shop that serves many flavors,” Ballard says. “Satire has a bite. It’s become challenging to talk about some things in our politically correct society,” Ballard says. “Satire points a finger and says, ‘Look at this.’”
Ruzicka also encourages audiences to simply enjoy the play in an artist’s statement he has written. “I hope that you enjoy it and, please, for your own sake, don’t take it so seriously,” he writes. “In this play, nothing is a sacred cow... not even a sacred cow.”
The Mexican Play. When: May 14, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and May 17 at 3 p.m. Where: Mondanaro Theater, 217 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Cost: $10 general public, $5 students/seniors/military and free for SCAD students, faculty and staff. Info: 525-5050 or www.scadboxoffice.com.
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