January 11 - January 19, 2013
This January, Flat Earth Theatre celebrates the legacy of legendary Czech playwright, president, and revolutionary leader Václav Havel with a production of his absurd comedy, The Memorandum, in an English translation by Vera Blackwell. When an office abruptly adopts a new “scientific” language, Ptydepe, a bewildered executive is forced to navigate a labyrinth of red tape in an effort to have an indecipherable memo translated. First performed in Prague under the shadow of Soviet-backed totalitarianism, The Memorandum lampoons the bureaucratic appropriation of language with a satirical spin still representative of today’s global office culture.
Director Victoria Rose Townsend’s treatment examines the thin line between our recognizable reality and a world of bureaucratic chaos evocative of Terry Gilliam's Brazil and Mike Judge’s Office Space. The language of Ptydepe, intended to optimize efficiency and accuracy in communication, is brought to life with the help of company linguist Devon Jones, who worked with the cast and director to create order and meaning from the untranslated gobbledegook of Havel’s absurd linguistic creation.
The Flat Earth production accentuates the humor and camaraderie in the adventures of Josef Gross, whose unexpected wanderings through the ranks of his department inadvertently parallel Havel’s own improbable journey from protest playwright to political prisoner to president. When he receives an interoffice memo in Ptydepe, Gross discovers that affairs in his department are not entirely under his control. Without proper documentation, the befuddled Managing Director finds himself running in circles in search of a translation. To complicate matters, the Deputy Director attempts to usurp Gross’s job, everyone in the Ptydepe Translation Center has gone to lunch, and the Staff Watcher is keeping a close eye on the supply of cigars. Yxap tseror najx!