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Theater Notes: The theater critic as actor

By Staff | Feb 25, 2015

This is pure vanity. Like a stage-struck kid, I went for an audition for a play as part of the BIG ARTS Community Theater effort. I got the part. The play was “Copenhagen” by Michael Frayn that won the Tony Award for 2000. It required three actors. We were all amateurs.

I played Neils Bohr, the Danish physicist, a half Jew who escaped to Sweden in 1942 just before the Nazi occupiers swept up all the Jews for deportation. Bohr eventually got to Los Alamos and was an important contributor to the bombs we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Oh, I loved how the role fit me. My lines allowed me to be tender, benevolent, kind, and sometimes sarcastic and fully angry. In real life, as father of four delightful kids and six grandchildren, I knew a lot about the range of emotions.

In the play my wife Margarethe serves as a Greek chorus to the narrative of the play. She was wonderfully portrayed by Molly Dowling, who has been part of Sanibel Community Theater for years.

Alan Levine played Werner Heisenberg, a famous German physicist, 20 years younger than Bohr and one of his former students, linked to Bohr almost like a son. Levine, whose former acting experience was in the 6th grade, rose to the heights demanded by his role of Heisenberg.

Kudos go to our director Robert Runck, a trained Shakespearean actor who got us all ready for our Monday night (Feb. 16) triumph at the BIG ARTS Strauss Theater. We’re all still bathing in the applause that rocked the roof off.

A highpoint of the evening was the amazing talk back and discussion. We heard from a rabbi who served in Japan after the war. From the son of a Navy officer who would most likely have been killed in the final years of the Pacific war if the bombs had not been dropped. There were two people who had visited Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the secret city where thousands of citizens worked to produce the cruel bombs.

What a wonderful ending after all those hours of rehearsals for three very busy people. The way Community Theater works, actors have day jobs. Unless you don’t think being retired is a day job.

Watch for the next play, “Art,” on March 26. I’m not in it, but I’ll be there rooting them on.