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10/27/2005 Linfield senior directs play focusing on life of soldiers

McMINNVILLE – Oliver Ogden, a Linfield College theatre arts and English major, will bring the drama and tragedy of war to life on the Linfield stage when he directs "Woyzeck," the second performance in this year’s schedule showcasing international theatre.

"Woyzeck" is the story of a young soldier who is abused, ridiculed and unable to rise above the victimization he suffers from his superiors during wartime. The audience witnesses Woyzeck sink further into the depths of madness as he deals with his unfaithful girlfriend. The play, partially written in 1837 by 23-year-old Georg Büchner, serves as a commentary on the aftermath of war on its soldiers.

Ogden chose to direct the play because of the direct implications it has on today’s society.

"During war, soldiers go through a reprogramming process to be able to cope with what they see and do," said Ogden, who is originally from Hillsboro. "This play illustrates how a soldier is conditioned to act using only instincts in war but then expected to function normally when he or she returns from conflict."

"Woyzeck" will be the first full-length production that Ogden has directed. To get to a level of experience where he could direct a play by himself, he took several upper level directing classes from Janet Gupton, assistant professor of theatre and communication arts at Linfield. Ogden also directed the Icebreaker plays last fall and was assistant director of "Scapino" in May.

"Even though I only receive a few academic credits and a name in the director’s spot in the program, the experience of directing ’Woyzeck’ is rewarding because it is a reflection of everything I have done and accomplished at Linfield," said Ogden.

To illustrate the universality of the play’s themes, cast members will all wear similar plain uniforms. Ogden found that the uniforms allude to the soldier metaphor within the play. The inspiration for the play’s scenic design comes from Marc Chagall, a Russian-born artist.

"Chagall really reflects what I am trying to put forth with ’Woyzeck,’" said Ogden. "Many of his paintings show the world of a small, calm town – only it’s turned upside down, sometimes on fire with animals running about. There is a lot of war imagery."

Senior Denise Pasquinelli of Vancouver, Wash., worked with Ogden as the scenic designer for "Woyzeck."

"I thought the structure of multiple fragmented scenes would be a fun challenge to tackle," said Pasquinelli, a theatre arts major. "The project has proven to be a nice example of all that I have learned within the Linfield theatre department."

There are 14 cast members in "Woyzeck," including three children and three musicians playing the violin, cello and piano. Steven Teter, a 2004 Linfield graduate, also wrote several original compositions and arranged the song "Drifting" by Four Non-Blondes for the production.

"In the play we have illustrations of how Woyzeck saw things, so we also needed to demonstrate how Woyzeck heard things as well," said Ogden.

Ogden, who hopes to become a film director, encourages everyone to come see the production.

"This play brings war down to a human level. Woyzeck serves as a reminder of what happens to soldiers over and over again."

Performances will be Nov. 10-12 and 17-19 at 8 p.m., and Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students, Linfield faculty and staff, and seniors (62+).

Tickets for "Woyzeck" can be reserved by calling 503-883-2292 or by e-mail at Tickets may be purchased in Ford Hall from 3 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, with expanded hours on performance days.

To reach Ford Hall from 99W turn east on Keck Drive at the McMinnville Market Center in south McMinnville. Turn right on Lever Street and right again on Ford Drive. Ford Hall is located at the west end of the parking lot.