Story posted March 26, 2009
Private, a play by Roger Bechtel, chair of Bowdoin’s department of theater and dance, has been selected as one of two winners in the Maine Playwrights Festival. It will be performed March 27 to April 4, 2009 at the St. Lawrence Arts Center in Portland.
The work examines the personal and political fallout of a politician caught in a sex scandal, a theme that Bechtel describes as “a recurring plotline in American politics.”
“It has become almost a ritual of seeing the penitent political man standing at the podium, with his wife standing behind him,” notes Bechtel. “You have to keep asking why these powerful men who are supposedly smart keep doing it when so many get caught? I wanted to know what the private fallout of that public shame would be. What would happen if the wife didn’t stand by him?”
Bechtel, an accomplished scholar, director and performer, is artistic director of Big Picture Group, an innovative Chicago-based theater company he co-founded in 1994.
Although he has published widely and collaborated on many original productions, this is his first full-length play. “I was surprised and very honored to be selected by the Maine Playwrights Festival,” he says, adding: “It’s very different to be a theater artist with a finished product that you can send out, rather than being present to direct or act.”
Bechtel won’t be present at the play’s premier, however, which coincides with final rehearsals and performance of the Bowdoin spring show, Attempts on Her Life, which he is directing.
The Maine Playwrights Festival also features a work by Bowdoin senior Lara Lom, who is Bechtel’s student. Her one-act play, Better, Tomorrow, examines communication between a man and woman grappling with an unforeseen event.
“I have been impressed with the level of playwrighting being done here,” notes Bechtel, who joined the Bowdoin faculty in Fall 2008. “It’s not typically the focus at a liberal arts college, but there is an incredible interest in playwrighting at Bowdoin.”