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Feb. 7: School of Drama Presents "The Memorandum," Feb. 7–10


Eric Sloss

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama
Presents "The Memorandum," Feb. 7–10    

PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama presents "The Memorandum," Wednesday, Feb. 7 through Saturday, Feb. 10 in the Purnell Center fThe Memorandumor the Arts' Philip Chosky Theater on campus.     

The play, written by former Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, is rife with thematic elements reflecting political tensions in communist Czechoslovakia during the 1960s that are still present in the U.S. These tensions are exposed through a satire full of drama and humor that takes place in a mundane office.     

"The School of Drama continues to look at plays that illuminate our contemporary reality in new ways," said Elizabeth Bradley, head of the School of Drama. "The hilarious predicament of the office-dwellers in 'The Memorandum' will be played out in a world created largely with lighting, and very little in the way of conventional scenery or costume. We have arrived at an adventurous approach to an important play which will help us to truly see it."   

In "The Memorandum" a government office is instructed to conduct all its business in a new official language called "Ptydepe," which no one can understand. As a result, the office workers are unable to determine who is working, arguing, agreeing or flirting. Sinister forces take advantage of the confusion and create a new order in the office. The solution to the trouble lies in a special memorandum, but it is written in "Ptydepe" and is incomprehensible to everyone who needs it most.    

Through the humor, some will see this play as a powerful commentary on modern life, but anyone who has worked in an office may see it as a documentary. Variety magazine said, "Nearly 35 years after its premiere, Havel's biting bureaucratic satire rings truer than ever." This year Havel turns 70, an event that will be celebrated internationally.

Show times are 8 p.m., Wednesday–Friday; and 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Saturday. Ticket prices vary by performance for students, faculty and staff, senior citizens, and the general public. For additional information about tickets or the upcoming season, contact the School of Drama box office at 412-268-2407 from noon to 5 p.m., Monday–Friday. For more on the School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts, visit, or contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765 or