WALLA WALLA, Wash — Combining politics, fantasy and civil liberties, “The Shadow” could be drawn from today’s headlines, but it’s actually one of many “fairy tales for grownups” written by Jewish author Yevgheny Shvarts in Soviet Russia during the early part of the 20th century.

Playing at Whitman College’s Harper Joy Theatre, “The Shadow” will run from Thursday, Dec. 11, through Sunday, Dec. 14, on the Alexander Stage. Curtain time for Thursday through Saturday is 8 p.m.; 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets go on sale for season ticket holders on Nov. 21; for the general public on Dec. 1. Call the Box Office at 527-5180 for information or reservations.

Chris Petit, assistant professor of theatre, will direct this story of the young and idealistic scholar, visiting a kingdom where “all they tell you in fairy tales happens every day.” Although he longs to marry the princess, the young man is betrayed by his own shadow.

“The Shadow” is a blend of fantasy, political satire and high drama,” said Petit, “and it celebrates theater on its most fundamental level, appealing to our childhood fantasies, but at the same time unforgiving in its social commentary.” And although the play was written in reaction to the rise of Stalin (it premiered in Leningrad in 1940 and was quickly shut down by Stalinist censors),he added, it could just as well represent a response to any government or society infringing on its citizens individual liberties. In addition to giving students the experience of performing in a heightened style of acting, he said, “I also find the play hilarious, and often it’s through laughter and the seemingly lighthearted that the greatest insight can be achieved.”

Between 1929 and 1958, Schvarts wrote “fairy tales for grownups,” drawing on established sources like Hans Christian Andersen and the Grimms, and using his seemingly innocent dramatic fables to ridicule rigid bureaucratic and social structures, corruption and human fear and indifference.


CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156