Hope College Theatre to Present "The Birds" April 23-26
Posted April 17, 2003
HOLLAND -- Hope College Theatre's final production
of the 2002-03 school year, "The Birds," a comedy by
Aristophanes, will run Wednesday-Saturday, April 23-26.
Curtain time is 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23; 9
p.m. on Thursday, April 24; and 8 p.m. on Friday-Saturday,
April 25-26. All performances will be in the DeWitt Center
According to John Tammi, professor of theatre and
director of "The Birds," Aristophanes is generally
considered the first great writer of comedy in Western
Aristophanes, Tammi noted, wrote during the long
struggle known as the Peloponnesian War, and criticized the
deteriorating Athenean society by creating memorable
characters embroiled in fantastic circumstances. Tammi said
that the playwright was especially fond of featuring animals
like frogs, wasps and birds as characters in his plays.
Targets of his satirical wit included the war (which he was
against), politics in general and demagoguery of all kinds.
"The Birds" was first performed at the annual City
Dionysia Festival in Athens in 414 B.C. It tells the story
of two Athenians, Pithetaerus and Euelpides, who set out in
search of a better life than the one they have known in the
crowded, noisy city which is full of annoying pests such as
poets, lawyers, philosophers and tax collectors.
They seek out Epops, the king of the birds, for
advice on an ideal place to settle. After some thought,
they decide that the life of the birds is ideal for them and
convince the king to create a new city, Cloud Cuckoo-land.
They believe that having control of the air and the
sacrificial smoke that passes through it will give them
power to control both the gods and the mortals on Earth.
According to Tammi, the Hope version is attempting
to embrace the spirit of Aristophanes' play by giving it a
contemporary look, feel and sound.
"It is difficult to determine exactly what
Aristophanes was most interested in satirizing in 'The
Birds,'" Tammi said. "He takes swipes at many aspects of
his society: the Athenians' fondness for litigation,
various kinds of pretension, imperialistic ambition and the
very concept of escapism and utopianism. What we can be
certain of is that much of his humor came from references to
current events in Athens. These historical references would
be lost on a modern audience so we're finding new ones that
may be relevant to our audience in 2003."
For the most part, according to Tammi, "The Birds"
is a fantasy romp intended for entertainment following the
heavy tragedies presented at the Athenian theatre festival.
"Our approach has been to make the play funny and engaging
for the audience. In a way, it can be seen as a celebration
of spring," he said.
Tammi noted that discovering how to present the
play has been very much a group effort.
"We started with an arrangement by Walter Kerr and
improvised from there," he said. "Everyone has contributed
to the look and sound of the production. It's been a
pleasure just being around so many talented and innovative
The cast of 30 students is headed by Daniel L.
Kwiatkowski, a junior from Cheboygan, as Pithetaerus, and
Jared Adam DeBacker, a sophomore from Jonesville, as
Epops, the king of the birds, is being played by
freshman Reginald Haney III of Harvey, Ill., and Epops'
queen is being played by sophomore Lisa Warmus of Rochester,
N.Y. Sophomore Olim Alimov of Yonkers, N.Y., plays a butler
bird, and freshman David Paarlberg of Glen Rock, N.J., plays
The chorus of birds includes: freshman Jessica
Bodtke of Grand Junction; freshman Ashley Anne Boer of
Modesto, Calif.; freshman Emily Casey of Wheaton, Ill.;
freshman Alyssa Garcia of Belmont; sophomore Clarissa
Stowell Gregory of Portage, Wis.; freshman Erica Hess of
Howell; freshman Heather Janofski of Marquette; junior Megan
Marie Jewell of Brighton; freshman Kate F. Pierri of
Mundelein, Ill.; freshman Corrie Smith of Holland; and
freshman Kendra Stock of St. Charles, Ill. Senior Joshua
Brandenburg of Hamlin, N.Y., plays the Chorus Leader, and
junior Adam C. Sherrett of Flushing plays the Captain of the
The gods are represented in the play by: Neptune,
played by freshman NoahDavid Lein of Kewadin; Hercules,
played by senior Josh Rumpsa of Grand Rapids; Barbarian God,
played by freshman Matt Schwabauer of Lakehurst, N.J.;
Prometheus, played by freshman Eric Van Tassell of Spencer,
Iowa; and Iris, played by junior Jessica Trakimas of Carmel,
Earth people are played by: freshman Mike
Dominiak of Dearborn, as Poet; sophomore Keith Janofski of
Marquette, as Prophet; freshman Zephyr Miller of Lansing, as
Real Estate Agent; freshman Kat Ramsey of Kalamazoo, as Tax
Collector; and Adam C. Sherrett, as Lawyer.
Freshman Jonathan Wesley White of Holland and
junior Stephan Matthew Gombis of Countryside, Ill., play
Messengers. David Paarlberg plays Herald.
Several students are participating in other
significant capacities. Senior John Andersen of Hamilton is
designing the setting. Sophomore Andrew Meyers of
Churchville, N.Y., is musical director and has composed
original music for the production. He is supported by
members of the cast: Mike Dominiak, keyboard; Joshua
Brandenberg, lead guitar; NoahDavid Lein, percussion; Corrie
Smith, violin; and Josh Rumpsa, bass.
Sophomore Rachel Jamieson of Orchard Lake is co-
props designer with faculty member Richard L. Smith and is
creating puppets for the production. Sophomore Abby
Youngerman of Royal Oak is co-designing costumes, hair and
makeup with faculty member Michelle Bombe. Junior Amanda
Joy Weener of Grand Rapids is serving as production stage
manager. Lighting and sound design is by faculty member
Perry Landes. Paul K. Anderson is technical director.
Tickets are $7 for regular admission, $5 for
students and members of the college's faculty and staff, and
$4 for senior citizens, and are available in the theatre
lobby box office in the DeWitt Center. The box office is
open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from
noon to 5 p.m., as well as until curtain time on performance
nights, and can be called at (616) 395-7890.
The DeWitt Center is located on Columbia Avenue at