Tualatin High's drama department will tackle some challenging themes in Karl Capek's 'The White Plague'
by: Jaime Valdez, MAD SCIENCE — Tualatin High senior Hillary White plays the part of Dr. Sigelius in the school’s production of Karel Capek’s “The White Plague.”

TUALATIN - Tualatin High School's production of Karl Capek's 'The White Plague' will raise a few eyebrows. According to drama director Stephen Jackson-Clark, it already has.

And cast members are excited about that.

The foreboding theme of the play focuses on the greed and fear of humanity. In the play, the world is faced with a disease that kills people over the age of 45. First skin starts to peal off. Then insides start to rot. Doctors are puzzled the world over, and all they can do is offer deodorizing agents to help patients deal with the smell of their bodies falling apart.

But one man has a cure. The problem is he wants the world powers to disarm and sign a unilateral peace treaty before he agrees to give the cure to the world. He will hold the world hostage.

Tualatin High senior Matt Orme sees the idea of holding the world hostage for peace a noble cause. Orme plays the part of Dr. Galen in one of the two casts performing the play. Dr. Galen is the man with the cure.

In one scene, Orme shouts out 'No, I want to stop the killing to end the war.' It's one of his favorite lines from the play. 'I like the idea behind it. Peace being the cause and not money.'

Orme's character is a stark comparison to Hillary White's character, Dr. Sigelius a fanatic nationalist driven by greed. In one scene White's character delivers a cold statement of belief that she'd 'rather witness all of humanity writhing in agony than give the cure to the world' in exchange for disarmament.

Cast members admit that the play presents a doom and gloom theme with a lot of violent language. The play is not recommended for children under the age of 12 because of its length and mature subject matter.

Performances are set for March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and March 12 at 3:30 p.m. in the school's auditorium. Tickets will be available at the door.

The play has only been performed once before in Oregon by the drama department at Southern Oregon University. Jackson-Clark saw the photos of actors with skin falling off their faces and thought, 'This is something we have to do.'

Under Jackson-Clark students at Tualatin High have tackled a Capek play before. The school performed the Czech playwright's Rossum's Universal Robots that again tackled the issue of the end of the human race but this time at the hands of robots. Capek is famously known for penning the term 'robot.'

Jackson-Clark who saw 'The White Plague' production as a challenge said, 'I feel like it's my responsibility as a teacher to encourage students to tackle real issues.'

White noted that for most high schoolers the comedies are the most appealing. She hopes that for once her teenage peers will make an exception.

'Really it's just the simple idea of a mad scientist holding the world hostage,' she said.

At a Glance

What: 'The White Plague'

When: March 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. and March 12 at 3:30 p.m.

Where: Tualatin High School auditorium, 22300 S.W. Boones Ferry Road

Tickets are $7 for adults, $6 for students, $5 for students with ASB cards, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for matinees.

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