Ted & Co. Satire Theater Examines the Nature of Enmity

Ted Swartz, acting as the reactionary limbic system of the brain, grabs Tim Ruebke, who represents the logical prefrontal cortex, in Friday's performance of "I Would Like to Buy an Enemy."

Ted Swartz, acting as the reactionary limbic system of the brain, grabs Tim Ruebke, who represents the logical prefrontal cortex, in Friday’s performance of “I Would Like to Buy an Enemy.”

Can you really buy an enemy? Actors and comedians Ted Swartz and Tim Ruebke acted out a scene in which someone could. Friday night, Jan. 31, Ted & Co. performed the comedic satire “I Would Like to Buy an Enemy” in the Mainstage Theater.

“I’ve enjoyed other performances Ted has done over the years, so I wanted to [go] regardless of what it was about,” said Senior Jonathan Burkholder.

The performance consisted of multiple scenes critiquing how humans treat each other. It covered themes of hatred, war, and social justice.

“[The performance] being a comedy helps break the tension of the topics,” said Burkholder.

In three installments, the play follows a man, played by Ruebke, who is in the process of shopping at a store that sells enemies. The customer goes along with the sale pitch and buys an enemy. Through the second and third parts the audience sees the customer transformed. He finds that through interactions with these people who used to be on the potential enemy list, he doesn’t see them as enemies anymore.

“The most impactful part for me was the ‘Can I Buy an Enemy?’ scene,” said Sophomore Erin Nafziger.

“When he said that, ‘we even have enemies for the people who don’t think they have any enemies,’ it was really true. At EMU we are encouraged to become accepting, and while this is a valuable disposition, it sometimes blinds us from realizing our own biases.”

Another sketch depicted how the human brain makes quick, visceral reactions in one part of the brain and logical, thought-out reactions in the other. An interaction between a man and a banana at the bus stop offers commentary on the impact of multinational corporations.

The banana tells the story of the “bananai” (an alternate plural form of bananas) and how the United Fruit Company monopolization of one species of banana caused economic and political crises in Central American countries.

The theater was full of EMU students, visiting students, and community members. The timing of the performance coordinated with EMU’s sponsoring of the Intercollegiate Peace Fellowship Conference. The conference touched on social justice topics and peace building.

During the talk-back after the show, audience members articulated their discomfort in the performance, because they felt it struck at many negative truths.

The satire made the audience uncomfortable with enemies they had ‘bought’ or evils they had inadvertently been a part of.

-Ellen Roth, Photography Editor, Web Manager


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