Theatre department adapts famed fiery novel ‘Fahrenheit 451’

Directed by the theatre department chair, Mark Cole, “Fahrenheit 451” stars Tyler Eldred, Issack Cintron and Dante Giannetta.  (Photo provided by oswego.edu)
Directed by the theatre department chair, Mark Cole, “Fahrenheit 451” stars Tyler Eldred, Issack Cintron and Dante Giannetta. (Photo provided by oswego.edu)

Oswego State’s play “Fahrenheit 451” debuted last week and was a theatrical success.

The play, directed by the Theatre Department chair Mark Cole, played in Waterman Theatre and starred Oswego State students. “Fahrenheit 451” is an American novel, written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953.

The setting of “Fahrenheit 451” takes place in a futuristic dystopian American society, where books are outlawed, government surveillance is widespread and society is reduced into a conforming, knowledge-oppressed people. “Firemen” no longer put out fires, but create fires to burn books and support the current government, The Citizens Committee’s ban on books.

The protagonist, Guy Montag, played by Keith Galucci, is a “fireman” during this time period. Montag is empowered to burn outlawed books and do his formal duties, until one night upon returning home from work he meets his neighbor, a girl named Clarisse McClellan, played by Clarissa Bawarski.

Intrigued by Clarisse’s intelligent mind and free-spirited nature, Montag looks forward to and continues to meet Clarisse on his walks to and from the firehouse. She is the kind who asks why, rather than ask how things are done and causes him to query his own life and her vital question: “Are you happy?” haunts him throughout the entire play. Galucci performed the role of Montag well, exuding his thoughts, hopes and frustrations in a clear manner. Viewers watch as Montag undergoes constant negativity at home from his wife Mildred, played by Anna Richardson, who is addicted to sleeping pills and government-controlled television programming. Montag is also belittled by his boss, the disturbed fire chief Captain Beatty, played by Tyler Eldred. Montag wonders if he really is happy with his life.

In the following days, Montag becomes forever changed after the firemen ransack an old woman’s book-filled house. He managed to steal a book before the inevitable burning. In utter despair and out of love for her precious books, the old woman, played by Miranda Coll, pulled out a match and set herself, her books and her home on fire before the firemen could force her out of the house.

Montag, still shaken by the event, finds out that Clarisse is believed to have died after being struck by a car. All of this causes Montag to search for meaning in books, despite protests from Mildred and the constant fear of being found out by the government or the newly-built and menacing eight-legged robotic dog, The Hound, which aids the firemen by hunting down those who violate the book ban and injecting them with poison.

The rest of the play leaves the audience holding its breath, as Montag struggles to understand and learn from books and conceal his secrets from the firemen and the oppressive government. All the while Montag is learning from Clarisse’s grandfather, a wise old man named Professor Faber, played by Nicholas Cocks.

The story leaves the audience in shock at the thought of a future without books. The play gives its viewers a sense of despair at the image of an American society where one cannot self-educate or ponder from the thoughts and lessons of timeless novels and moving poetry. Montag’s character represents an uprising against a society plagued by ignorance and a lack of drive to understand and learn.

In all, “Fahrenheit 451” had an excellent plot, an outstanding cast and it left a significant impression on its audience: how the ideas, thoughts and information that come from books are crucial for mankind’s progression and future.