The Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Charleston School of the Arts will present the quirky comedy “On the Bum, Or the Next Train Through,” by Neal Bell. It’s 1938 and America was never so rich with talented men and women of the theatre. Unfortunately, America was also never so poor—literally. Just as it did for so many skilled workers during that era of 25% unemployment, the WPA rescued thousands of theatre artists. Professional actors with extraordinary financial need could apply for a variety of jobs in plays to be staged in towns all across the U.S. “On The Bum” follows the whimsical, fictional, exploits of one such actress as she goes from a New York cast whose producers don’t have enough money to make it to opening night to certain, though low-wage, employment in a local historical drama in the town of Bumfork. Contemporary playwright Neal Bell has captured the witty style of the 1930’s cleverest comedies and brought it to a tale that is a love-letter both to the theatre and to the feistiest of the 99% in any society then or now.
The production will run Thursday, February 21st through Tuesday, February 26th. Curtain times will be 7:30 p.m., except Sunday at 3 p.m. only. Performances will take place at the Emmett Robinson Theatre in the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 Saint Philip St. Tickets may be purchased at the box office or by telephone (843) 953-5604 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission is $15 for general admission and $10 for College of Charleston students, faculty and staff and senior citizens 60 and older. The “talkback” discussions with the cast and crew will take place opening night following the performance.
Mark Landis of the Department of Theatre and Dance faculty is directing the play. Landis says, “I don’t think I’ve read a play in many years that dares an audience to learn from history, that credits an audience with coming into the play smart and well-informed, and that does both of those things while it reminds us how richly funny dialogue used to be in the smart comedies of pre-war America. Neal Bell has given us quite an amazing piece to play because the writing is so very, very good; and it never lets us settle into a formulaic approach. It think people will be frequently surprised by the humor of the play and the turns this really intriguing story takes.”