by Nora Gombos
The cast of Marathon 33 spent their Sunday under gruelling
hot theatre lights during their technical rehearsal, perfecting the timing
for each scene so they will be ready to go when the play opens this Friday.
We have worked very hard to tell the story in the most powerful
way theatrically, said director Lise Ménard, who also directed
Les Belles Soeurs by Michel Tremblay for Concordia in 2000.
The cast of 18 actors, who have been rehearsing since Oct. 8, are second-
and third-year students in Concordias theatre program. They auditioned
for Ménard last spring.
Marathon 33 was written by June Havoc, a celebrated actress
and dancer in vaudeville and later in Hollywood, based on her own experiences.
It was originally staged on Broadway by The Actors Studio in 1963.
The play is based on the dance marathons of the Great Depression of the
1920s and 30s, when people would do literally anything to eat.
Marathon 33 is about money and the exploitation of
human beings, Ménard said.
Its a cruel spectacle of human desperation. People participated
in the dance marathons for the money prizes, but also for the glory, and
many participants resorted to dirty tricks to win.
A dance marathon could go on for months. People were dancing to
exhaustion, Ménard said.
They only got 11 minutes break every hour to rest. They slept while
they were dancing. One was on the job, holding up the other, but they
always had to keep their feet moving.
This was possible as long as the music played was slow, but once or twice
an hour they would pick up the beat.
Ménard explained that these sprints were designed to
eliminate people from the competition.
Of this production, she said, Its a conceptual show. Were
supposed to be dancing for approximately 3,000 hours, and illustrating
the passage through time was challenging to take in as an actor,
said Amanda Kellock, who plays Jean, a character loosely based on Havoc.
Though the play reflects
Havocs own experience as a marathon dancer and comments on a unique
period in history, Ménard believes it deals with issues still valid
We dont dance for the jazz of it in our world, she said.
We dont dance
for the beauty, we dance for the profit.
Marathon 33 will run from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1 in the D.B. Clarke
Theatre. Tickets are available from the Box Office, 848-4742. General
admission is $10 and students pay $5.