Stage club introduces independent run of ‘Arms and the Man’

Arms and the Man, by celebrated Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw, is a comedy about an enemy soldier sneaking into a girl’s room, setting the stage for mischief throughout the play.

Devon Roberts is the director and producer, and Clara Navaille is a Portland State junior who plays Raina Petkoff within the play. The play is a completely student-produced theater production. Arms and the Man will perform one weekend from May 26 to May 28 in Lincoln Hall.

Roberts is extremely passionate about this production, as he is the one who proposed doing a fully independent run to PSU stage club. Once the club gave him the go-ahead, he began preparing by planning dates and contacting help, and he even became a prominent leader within PSU Stage.

Arms and the Man is the first play in three years to not be produced through the theater department.

“This play is completely funded by the club,” Roberts said. “The club attempts to build community through theater and through entertainment. We focus on producing student work, community building and giving students an opportunity to perform.”

Roberts chose Arms and the Man because he fell in love with the play when he read it in middle school. Even though his desire was to act in the play, he knew that directing it would be an even greater challenge and reward.

“Its [The play’s] themes are relevant,” Roberts said. “Shaw is a very satirical writer…he looks at gender issues, gender politics,” Roberts said. “He looks at how silly it can be to rush into war; he talks about the glorification of war and how absurd it is.”

One of the reasons this play is so special to those participating is because the theater students have felt that there hasn’t been as broad of an opportunity for them to produce their own work or act because of budget cuts.

“When you start closing classes because there aren’t as many students in them or you start taking away the rehearsal studios or the actual performance spaces and making the department and the students rent them…it limits our ability to grow as artists,” Roberts said.

Roberts’s main goal with this fully student-run production is to test the water to see how possible it is for students to produce work and find the gaps within the system.

PSU Stage student Clara Navaille is also excited for Arms and the Man. She thinks that being in a fully student-run production has its pros and cons. “It’s really fun working with a student director, there’s a lot of fresh ideas and I think we collaborate a lot,” Navaille said. “But I do think it is difficult, mainly the whole budget situation.”

However, Navaille has high hopes that the play is going to be a success. “The doubt that people have is, “Can you really be serious when you work with your friends and peers?” But I think we have really been productive.”

This is a free production for anyone to attend, as the main goal is for everyone to have a good time and have fun. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. The show takes place in Lincoln Hall’s Studio Theater, room 115.