Letter from the Director

Welcome to Urinetown: The Musical.  Our show is a silly one, set in a dystopian future where water is scarce and private toilets have been outlawed.  Throughout the piece, we follow a town in crisis and the unlikely hero who rises to challenge the status quo.  If you’ve ever balked at the title of our play, good, and if you’re thinking the plot is absurd, it is.  You’re meant to question it. 

Our musical draws inspiration from the works of Jewish playwright and director Bertolt Brecht, who fled Nazi Germany and went on to create a style of drama called “Epic Theater”.  Brecht, most famous for his work The Threepenny Opera, written with composer Kurt Weillbelieved that theater should be used as a hammer to shape society and wanted his plays to awaken audiences to the political landscapes that lay just outside their theater doors.  Using a technique commonly referred to as the “alienation effect”, or maybe more accurately the “estrangement effect”, Brecht shaped his plays to keep viewers from getting too caught up in suspending their disbelief or losing themselves in the worlds of his stories.  Instead, he ensured his plays made “an audience think critical and uncomfortable thoughts about money, power, and ethics.”[1] 

Though the world outside our theater doors is, of course, very different from the one Brecht’s audiences faced, it is still one worthy of critical analysis.  Perhaps more.  What do we see in our world that makes us balk; that we might label absurd?   

Bayard Rustin, a Black, gay, Civil Rights pioneer, and the chief organizer of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 March on Washington believed that, “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.  Our power is in our ability to make things unworkable.” As you leave the theater today, we encourage you to question the landscape that lays outside its doors and to ask how we can make good trouble that creates responsible and lasting change in our society.  By making things unworkable, together we might escape a silly fate. 

Thank you for supporting the arts here at North Shore and enjoy the show! 

[1] Crash Course Theater: Bertolt Brecht and Epic Theater. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fqMPDcKXM. 

Aaron F. Brateman