‘Fahrenheit 451’ still burns brightly

  • Dale Burrows<br>For the Enterprise
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 8:59am

Tucked away on the second floor of the Triton Union building on campus at Edmonds Community College is a lean, bare room. On the opening night last week of “Fahrenheit 451,” the room showed no signs of life except a bare stage and a handful of diehards scattered up and down four or five rows of unfolded metal chairs. It was surprising. At one minute to eight, the place was dead. At one minute after eight, it started filling with the one thing live performances can’t do without.

Imagination fueled by passion.

In a way, “Fahrenheit” is just the kind of thing you would expect college students to get caught up in. It’s classic by Ray Bradbury that poses a time in the future when firemen don’t have to put out fires because technology has seen to it that there aren’t any. Instead, reading books is against the law, not owning them but reading them. Firemen burn books people read. Dostoevski, Shakespeare, Holy Bible; all up in flames.

The work was conceived decades ago. It is critical, iconoclastic, intellectual, angry. Also, it was prophecy then and not so far from truth now.

Line deliveries were rushed. Costuming was makeshift. Set changes took as long as the scenes that the sets were changed for. The production was far from polished, professional and yet one of the good ones we’ve seen this year because of director, Justin “Jet” Tinsley, and cast.

Brad Russell played protagonist-rebel, Montag, who evolves from fireman to outlaw book reader; Charles Dietzman was devil’s advocate and fireman boss, Black, who routs out book readers; and Glynis Mitchell, the free-spirited Clarisse, who sparks Montag’s evolution.

Joseph Roland disappeared into the cowardly but well-read, Faber, who tutors Montag. Roland had some very fine moments.

David A. Gallegos was Plato; Max Hype, Beatty; Daniel Nolette, Melville; Matt Hill, Dostoevski; Gina Baron, Mildred. Christin Ward-Batton was Robert Louis Stevenson; Caylin Feiring, Aristotle; Kathryn Isley, Tolkein; Megan Christianson, Bronte; Michael Byers, St. Exupery; and Yin Pin Khoh, Tolstoy. Carrie Nichols was Louis Carroll.

This was a predominantly student production, not funded like football, but fired up by people with open minds who read books. No doubt, book burning to them and to some, maybe most, hopefully all of us, even the thought of book burning as punishable by law is anathema. We wish them a bigger budget, more support and a continued independent spirit.

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