The Lycoming College theatre department will perform a pair of comedies, presented together as "An Absurd Pair," which separately are "Fire in the Basement" and "Out at Sea."
But they are not absurd in the simplest of terms; they aren't just two silly comedies. The absurdity actually has historical meaning. The two plays celebrate Eastern European absurdism, or "Theatre of the Absurd" a style of theatre that refers to the work of a group of dramatists who first emerged during and after World War II.
"We made a decision to focus the season on comedies and we looked at representing a wide range of sub-genres," said the director of the plays, Biliana Stoytcheva-Horissian.
"Fire in the Basement" features newlyweds who find their apartment invaded by firefighters - but find themselves wondering if there even a fire. "Out at Sea" features a cast that is stranded on a raft as supplies dwindle.
"It combines humor and improbable situations with dark, satiric commentaries on the world around us and the absurdities we face in life," said Stoytcheva-Horissian, also known as Dr. B, who is a part-time instructor at the college. She teaches acting courses and introduction to theatre.
Stoytcheva-Horissian hails from Eastern Europe herself. She grew up in a family of famous Bulgarian actors, whom she said have been considered legends of Bulgarian theatre.
"Quite naturally, my love for theatre began at an early age," she said.
She graduated renowned schools in Europe studying theatre.
"After performing professionally and touring internationally for several years, I came to the U.S. to continue my theatre education," she said.
She continued at the University of Oregon, where she received a doctorate in theatre arts. She spent ten years teaching in the theatre department at Emory & Henry College, Virginia.
"I am actively involved with theatre everyday - I teach classes, direct productions, write about theatre and I am often invited to present master classes and workshops in the U.S. and abroad," she said.
"Fire in the Basement" and "Out at Sea" were written by two "masters of Eastern European absurd" - Pavel Kohout, from Czechoslovakia, and Slawomir Mrozek, from Poland.
The ridiculous farces, she said, explore abuse of power, conformity and limitation of human freedom under a totalitarian system.
But, although the two share similar thematic content and were written during the same time period, they both are very different.
"[The plays] are two very different productions which require completely distinct performing styles, scenery and costumes," Dr. B said.
The student cast for "Fire in the Basement" includes Robert Hoffman, of Hawley; Hershey Millner, of New Albany, Ohio; Nigel Barnes of Suitland, Md.; Taylor Granger, of Wernersville; Ian Buffum, of Barrington, R.I.; and Sarah Beddingfield, of Colorado City, Texas.
And "Out at Sea" features Beddingfield, Ian Buffum, Katie Buffum of Barrington, R.I.; Emily Early of Houston, Texas; and Kahla Moon of Frederick, Md.
The plays will be performed Oct. 2 through 5 in the Mary L. Welch Theatre. All performances begin at 8 p.m. A dinner will be offered on Oct. 4 in the college's Jane Schultz Room in the Wertz Student Center. Tickets for the dinner and show are on sale and reservations are required. Reservations may be made by calling 321-4048.