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Fresh Absurdity

September 27, 2019 School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

The Visit reunion image

"The Visit" tells timeless story of democracy gone amok.

By Jessica Weiss '05 | Maryland Today 

You are given the chance to save your town from soul-crushing poverty, but first you must commit an unthinkable act. Do you do it?

That’s the central question Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt explored in his 1956 play "The Visit.” He was among many European playwrights struggling in the postwar period to come to grips with the unfathomable realities of the Holocaust.

Amid a global wave of social and political turmoil, similar questions about complicity, morality and evil resonate acutely today. That prompted UMD’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) to stage “The Visit” at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The play opens tomorrow and runs through Oct. 5.

“This is really a story about democracy gone amok,” says Brian MacDevitt, a five-time Tony Award-winning lighting designer and TDPS faculty member who is directing the production. “And that is kind of where I feel like we live now.”

Set in the fictitious town of Güllen, Switzerland, “The Visit” is about a wealthy woman who offers a large sum of money to her impoverished hometown in exchange for the townspeople exacting revenge on the man who impregnated then abandoned her years earlier.

Read more in Maryland Today

Photo by Stephanie S. Cordle.