George Bernard Shaw’s quick-witted comedy Man and Superman opens in Theatre UCF’s Black Box on Thursday, Nov. 12.
The play, written in 1903, is a social satire that focuses on relationships. The young, enigmatic Ann Whitefield is looking for a husband and hopes to find him in the wealthy and political Jack Tanner, who also happens to be her new guardian. Although Tanner attempts to flee when he hears of Ms. Whitefield’s intentions, he soon realizes his feelings for her are too strong to leave.
While the premise could easily be dismissed as a romantic comedy, the play addresses substantial gender-role issues, and director Lani Harris is looking at the play through a feminist lens. One of the ways she is making this clear is by making protagonist Ann a member of the suffrage movement.
“My starting point for this production was: What if Ann were not an ‘empty-headed, feather-brained little woman’? What if she were involved in the politics of her time?” said Harris.
Graduate student Maddie Tarbox plays the role of Ann.
“The play begins with Ann entering the house after a rally with her picket sign, quickly passing it over to the maid before getting involved in the conflict in the house,” Tarbox said. “Ann will also be wearing a pin throughout the whole show that is a sort of symbol of the suffragette movement.
“Man and Superman is a very socially political piece. The ideas that Shaw presented were incredibly revolutionary for the time. We need to remember that those audiences were hearing these ideas probably for the first time. On top of that, we are in the middle of an election and these ideas are still applicable if you choose to really hear them.”
“Man and Superman is about women exerting their will over men through inverting expectations,” said graduate student Eric Eichenlaub. “My character, Ramsden, is the most steeped in traditional ideas of gender. But by the end of the play, he is applauding Ann getting what she wants.”
The timing of the play with the release of the new motion picture Suffragette is coincidental, as Harris started planning the concept for Man and Superman long before she knew the movie was being released. The cast has been invited to a prescreening of the film, however, and is using it as research for their roles.
Man and Superman runs Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 12-22. Note that the University of Central Florida hosts a home football game on Nov. 19, and patrons should check with the box office about special parking arrangements for that performance.
Tickets are $20, $18 seniors, $10 students.
For more information, go to http://www.theatre.ucf.edu or call 407-823-1500
Production at a glance:
Man and Superman
by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Lani Harris
Nov. 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 at 8 p.m.
Nov. 15, 22 at 2 p.m.