Dodo Birdie

17

Author: Berit Anderson

The workshop performance of Dodo Birdie on Saturday night, the brainchild of Manzin, did not fit traditional Keck theater fare.

The screenplay’s narrative follows the internal turmoil of an orphaned albino named Eric, played by Henry McMillan (senior), as he struggles with the realities of a future apocalyptic world. Witch doctors, who are themselves inflicted with cancer, are hunting the albino population because of their demonstrated immunity to the disease. Eric has been raised within the insular bubble of a church-bound theater company designed by his dead father to protect him from this reality. Disillusioned with the falsehoods of his world, Eric has decided to leave behind the church and his surrogate acting family, when he is kidnapped by the Witch Doctor. According to Manzin, the storyline of the play was inspired by a BBC article about a movement of actual Tanzanian witch doctors who were hunting albinos for their body parts. That and his own struggle for independence.

It’s an odd scenario to be sure, but the witty, caustic and usually vulgar dialogue of Manzin’s characters worked well within its framework. There was no shortage of laughter among Saturday evening’s audience as Manzin’s characters spent the approximately hour-long performance physically and verbally sparring with one another.

After only two weeks of rehearsals, Manzin admitted to being “nervous as hell” before Friday night’s performance, but says Saturday was much better since the actors were more comfortable in their roles. “I was honored to work with director Ken Roht and Adam LeBow, who were able to realize my play on-stage,” he said. “The student actors were great too. Shoutouts to everybody.”

“It was like watching a little slice of Daniele’s brain,” audience member Emma Green (senior) said.

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