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Bethel College to stage "The Physicists"

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. - Bethel College Theater Arts students will present "The Physicists," a drama by playwright Friederich Dürrenmatt (translation by James Kirkup), at 7:30 p.m., May 8, 9 and 10 in Krehbiel Auditorium, Fine Arts Center on the Bethel College campus in North Newton. The play deals with scientific issues. Its production on the Bethel College campus is one of the final events during the current academic year to mark the completion of Krehbiel Science Center and the first year of its use. The new facility for biology, chemistry, physics and psychology was dedicated in October.

Set in a madhouse, the play mixes bizarre comedy and satire with a spy-thriller twist, according to John McCabe-Juhnke, the play's stage director. The principal characters are three male patients, all nuclear physicists. One believes he is Sir Isaac Newton; a second thinks he is Einstein; the third has visions in which King Solomon appears to him. In charge is an efficient, aristocratic hunchbacked female psychiatrist.

"I was drawn to the play's dark humor and the mix of unusual characters. But beneath the humorous surface are pertinent questions about morality, scientific truth and social responsibility," says McCabe-Juhnke, who was introduced to the script by Merle Schlabaugh, professor of German at Bethel College.

McCabe-Juhnke sees the play as an example of interdisciplinary discussion. "Bethel College does this well. The play presents a wonderful opportunity for dialogue among students and faculty in science, German, theater and other disciplines."

The cast includes Vanessa Konrade, sophomore from Burdett, as Irene Straub; Colin Waltner, senior from Freeman, S.D., as police inspector Richard Voss; Sara Anne Hobbs, freshman from Newton, as Marta Boll; Ben Gundy, freshman from Bluffton, Ohio, as Blocher; Ian Huebert, sophomore from Henderson, Neb., as Guhl; Daniel Anderson, junior from Apple Valley, Minn., as the police doctor; J.J. Birky, junior from Colorado Springs, Colo., as Herbert George Beutler (Newton); Bethany Joy Amstutz, sophomore from Goessel, as Fräulein Doktor von Zahnd; Jeremy Schrag, junior from Moundridge, as Ernst Heinrich Ernesti (Einstein); Ivonne Cabrera, sophomore from McPherson, as Frau Lina Rose; Matthew Scott McKitrick, senior from Aurora, Colo., as the policeman Oskar Rose; Ian Swanson, senior from Lindsborg, as the patient Johann Wilhelm Möbius; Rachel D. Hetzke, freshman from Pawnee Rock, as Monika Stettler; Kurtzs R. Holbert, Jr., freshman from Fort Worth, Texas, as Uwe Sievers; Darryl Diltz, freshman from St. Louis, Mo., as McCarthur; and Rick Gonzalez, freshman from San Antonio, Texas, as Murillo.

Other cast members are in the Newton Public Schools. Phillip Bradshaw, a sixth grader at Santa Fe Middle School, plays the part of Jörg-Lukas; Samuel Piper, an eighth grader at Santa Fe Middle School, is cast as Wilfred-Kaspar. Austin McCabe-Juhnke, a freshman at Newton High School, is Adolf-Friederich.

Technical director is Brent Noel, assistant professor of communication arts at Bethel College.

McCabe-Juhnke is directing his 27th stage production at Bethel College where he is professor of communication arts. He graduated from Bethel College in 1978, completed his master's degree in speech communication at the University of Illinois and earned his doctoral degree in performance studies at Louisiana State University. He has taught at Bethel since 1986.

Tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students/senior citizens. Call (316) 284-5281. All seats are reserved.

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