Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

An Age-Old Story of Intrigue and Rebellion

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

An Age-Old Story of Intrigue and Rebellion

Article excerpt

Though it dates back more than 200 years, Friedrich Schiller's "The Robbers" could easily be set in the camps of Occupy Wall Street or Tahrir Square in Cairo.Let's start with the play's premise: A charismatic, Robin Hood-like leader turns a band of thieves and outsiders into a revolutionary youth movement. He wants to return his society to the rule of law. The leader's brother stays inside the world of privilege. He sees power as his birthright -- pure power, outside the rule of any law.It could be today, but the time is 1781 and the scene is the Bohemian Forest in Germany in the play that opens Feb. 22 at the FSU/Asolo Conservatory."It was Schiller's first play. He was only 21 years old when he wrote it. It burns with the rebellious spirit of youth on every page," said guest director David Kennedy.Kennedy is the associate artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, Conn., and he is a fan of engaging new work and timeless plays. As he sees it, truly great theater doesn't have an expiration date."This play comes from an amazing period in German theatrical history," Kennedy said. "It was the time of playwrights like Goethe, Lenz, Schiller and others. It was a rare explosion of creativity, comparable to the Elizabethan era that gave us Shakespeare, Marlowe and Ben Johnson."Kennedy said it is a labor of love for the period, the playwright and the play that led him to direct the Conservatory production."The Robbers" offers a combination of strong ideas and characters and a roller coaster plot full of Shakespearean switchbacks."On top of that, there's a great villain," said Kennedy.For the last five years, Kennedy has been participating in workshops with German playwright Klaus van den Berg as he fine-tuned a fresh, contemporary language adaptation of the play."We wanted to blow away the dust of 200 years and make it sound like today," he said. The adaptation "is accessible American vernacular that retains the power of Schiller's original language. Our goal was to create dialogue that sounds like speech, not like actors making speeches."The costumes by Amy J. Cianci also will be contemporary, with the band of robbers sporting punk and alternative gear. …

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