Augie wraps up theater productions for the year with “The Memo”


Linh Tran

Sylvia Hughes’s Gross stands between Kaden Micklos’s Balas and Noah Johnson’s Noah.

Allie Lewis

The Augustana Department of Theatre arts presented its performances of “The Memo” on May 11-14. This rounded out Augie’s theatre productions of the 2022-2023 school year. 

“The Memo” was originally written by Václav Havel as a way to condemn communism. This production, however, made edits to focus more on the negative effects of bureaucracy by showing the inner-workings of an out-of-the-ordinary corporation. This show was extremely well done in both the production and storytelling aspects. 

The production opened with an all white set. Holes cut out in some of the walls, which allowed audience members to see actors through the wall later on in the show. The actors were dressed in the same costume: black pants, shoes, shirts and matching patches on the sleeves. 

First-Year Sylvia Hughes played the role of Robin Gross, the director of the corporation that was portrayed in the show. This play takes the audience on a wild ride trying to navigate how this workplace is functioning while trying to integrate employees to use a new language.

Her deputy director, played by First-Year Kaden Micklos, had some ulterior motives by wanting to move up in the company ranks and often left the audience guessing what their true intentions and next move would be. 

This language was designed to be extremely efficient, but was very flawed. It has many complex rules and is virtually impossible to both teach and learn. Gross spends a majority of the first act of the show attempting to translate a memo she receives in this new language. 

Many of the actors would move in perfect sync with one another, adding another element to this mysterious corporation. Their interactions with one another were sometimes quite odd, but fit in quite well with this already odd workplace being portrayed. 

There were many moving parts to this play that made it especially engaging for the audience, such as costuming the crew in the same apparel as the cast while they set up and take down set pieces. Another detail was the use of sound. Between set changes, the same song played at different tempos, showing shifts in mood.

When moods changed, the lighting effectively showed contrast on the all-white set. For example, when the tone of the scene had elements of anger, the lighting turned red, but when there was a more optimistic portion of the scene, the lighting took a shade of purple. 

Although there were portions of the play that were somewhat off-putting, it helped to immerse the audience. It stressed the importance of some negative aspects of bureaucracy, and the show aided in the audience’s understanding of said themes. 

This play showed that sometimes, attempts to make things simpler and more efficient can backfire. In today’s society, we often try to simplify concepts or ideas, which ends up resulting in overcomplication.

All in all, the ensemble put on a great, thought-provoking performance. The plot left the audience on the edge of their seats and always guessing what would happen next. This show was a great ending to the 2022-2023 theater season at Augustana College.