@ The Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Main St.
 

Underneath the Sycamore Tree

Written by Samuel Spewack, directed by Jim Eckman

  • L to R: Kathi-Jane (Queen Ant) and Casandra Smith (Chief Statistician)
  • L to R: Kathi-Jane (Queen Ant), Chris Rivas (Boy Ant), Bob Singer (Chief Scientist) and Jasmine Singer (Girl Ant)
  • L to R: J.J. Straub (General), Bob Singer (Chief Scientist) and Kathi-Jane (Queen Ant)
  • L to R: Kathi-Jane (Queen Ant), Jasmine Singer (Girl Ant), Jorel Singer (Worker Ant), Bob Singer (Chief Scientist), Chris Rivas (Boy Ant), J.J. Straub (General) and Celina Gardea (Brown Ant)

Mar 12-Mar 25, 2007

FRI MAR 9,16,23 | 8:00 PM
SAT MAR 10,17,24 | 8:00 PM
SUN MAR 18,25 | 2:30 PM
THUR MAR 22 | 7:00 PM

Description

Credits

Boy Ant/Boy Junior
Brown Ant
Chief Scientist
Chief Statistician
General
Girl Ant/Girl Junior
Queen Ant
Worker Ant
Costume Design
Director
House Manager Coordinator
Light Board Operator
Lighting Design
Producer
Properties Design
Publicity
Set Construction Crew
Set Construction Crew
Set Construction Crew
Set Design
Set Design
Sound Board Operator
Stage Crew
Stage Crew
Written By

Reviews

Classic play shows modern troubles
'Under the Sycamore Tree' tells a human tale from a smaller perspective

- By Joel Courtney, Las Cruces Bulletin

No Strings Theatre Company has brought a timeless piece of stage work to Las Cruces with their newest production, "Under the Sycamore Tree," by Samuel Spewack and directed by Jim Eckman.

The story tells of the "white ants," a colony of atypical bugs that have become self-aware. All the blame of their condition comes from the Chief Scientist (Bob Singer), who discovered many strange things after stepping on a wire that sent strange sounds and images into his head.

Soon thereafter, the science ant has the entire colony speaking in words instead of numbers and searching to become more and more human through love. However, Scientist does create some of the less attractive parts of human society as well, including weapons of mass destruction, deception and even adultery.

The Queen Ant (Kathi-Jane) eats up the new technologies and ideas, further pushing her colony to the forefront of civilization, regardless of the consequences it may cause.

Trying to hold the colony back to the "good old days" are the Chief Statistician (Cassandra Smith), the eternal conservative who longs for the way things were, and the General (J.J. Straub), who values the honor behind a good war and eating your enemy afterwards.

As the Scientist discovers love, he tries to figure a way to force it into any society. Thus, Girl Ant (Jasmine Singer) and Boy Ant (Christopher Rivas) are called upon to fall into love. Not understanding the concept, Scientist forces the two to perform many of the rituals that loving humans perform, although they do look rather silly when observing them from an outside perspective.

Slowly but surely, the entire colony becomes assimilated from love, and even the Queen herself falls in love with Scientist. Through time, the ants learn from the mistakes their newfound civilization has brought them, even learning valuable lessons such as the fruitlessness of war. However, when the ants try to explain their findings to the president of the United States, they are promptly dismissed.

The most enjoyable aspect of the play is how relevant the topics are, even though it was written in the late 1940s. Although it is not uproariously funny, there are several humorous moments, and it is very family friendly.

The Black Box Theatre had more children on opening night than I have ever seen at a theatre outside of a field trip, and they all seemed to enjoy the night, although many of the more serious topics may have been over their heads.

Singer and Kathi-Jane do a great job of running their new government inside the colony, but shine the brightest as parents discussing the marriage of their daughter Precocious.

Straub becomes the consummate general, and even his accent fits that of the hardened leader who values the honor of a fight over the effectiveness of it.

The rest of the cast, though young, is no less gifted on the stage. In fact, Smith, Singer and Rivas attend Alma d'arte, Oñate High School and Las Cruces High School, respectively. Smith seems years older from her constant complaining about the "good old days" of speaking with numbers, and Singer and Rivas keep the crowd laughing throughout their time onstage with their mockery of "human love."

Peter Herman and his set construction crew did a great job of creating the root system of the sycamore tree that extends into the ants colony, and the dead wasp and ant hunting spears that hang on the queen's wall truly add to the feel of the set.

If you're looking for a fun night of theater for the whole family, or even just a good night out alone, stop by the Black Box Theatre, 430 N. Downtown Mall, for a performance of "Under the Sycamore Tree."

Play pokes fun at issues in society
- By Shannon Bell, NMSU Roundup [ 3/12/07 ]

Many a story has been written about mankind from the perspective of an outsider, and the outsider is frequently in the form of a being other than a human. The Black Box Theatre's latest production, "Under the Sycamore Tree," is one such story-a social commentary from the view of a curious society of ants.

Written in the late 1940s by Samuel Spewack, the play examines the nature of humans and their successes and failures.

As a farce, the story has many laughs as it pokes fun of the complicated nature in which humans live.

The Queen Ant, played by local Kathi-Jane, takes pride that her colony is better than the neighboring Brown Ants. She has a Chief Scientist, played by Bob Singer, whose technological advances are launching their colony to human-like societal proportions.

They make use of biological warfare against their enemies ("DDT!"). The Chief Scientist also discovers a rather useful method of seeing inside an ant egg to determine whether or not its existence is desired-a concept they call "birth control."

It becomes obvious in the first act that the colony is a farcical mirror of human society, and one can begin to see that, all jokes aside, we live in a sad, sad world of self-induced complication and petty ambition.

Seating

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