by Tom Stoppard
  Director Anna Antaramian
Spring 2008

Et in Arcadia Ego

    The word Arcadia evokes images of a perfect, but lost, world, a golden age in which shepherds and shepherdesses lived toil-free, carefree lives. Their days were filled with song; their nights, with love. The word is as old as a Grecian urn. And, as a theme, Arcadia is central to Western civilization. Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare wrote of it. The "country house" poems of the 17th century are based on it. It is the subject of sculpture and painting, especially in the 18th century. The anti-urbanism of 19th century Romanticism is Arcadian. Even the Boomer myth of the 1960s, Woodstock Nation, is a trivial evocation of this ancient pastoral ideal expressed by Shakespeare's contemporary, Christopher Marlowe: "Come live with me and be my love/And we will all the pleasures prove/That valleys, groves, hills and fields/woods or steepy mountain yields."

    The Hebrew parallel to Arcadia is the Garden of Eden. A major difference, however, is the Biblical inclusion of morality. The Greek paradise was lost because the world declined from an age of gold to one of silver, then to bronze, and finally to this, our age of lead. Eden was lost because the world's first man and woman, Adam and Eve, did not follow God's commandment to avoid the fruit of a specific tree. In that loss, Death entered the world. This version of a perfect world lost didn't include shepherds and shepherdesses, but it did include a snake as the tempter who led the human couple to eat of the fruit that God forbade.

    In his play, Stoppard is constant in reminding us of the twining of these lost paradises. Septimus, a tutor who has given into the temptation of a 'carnal embrace,' for example, refers to the man who spied him in the act, Noakes, as a reptile. But the reference is more pointed than that. Noakes is a landscape architect who has been hired to transform Sidley Park, the setting for the play, from an 18th century classical estate, complete with lawns, flower beds, and manicured trees and shrubs, into an awe-inducing wildness. Septimus' exact words about Noakes are "in the scheme of the garden he is as a serpent." Similarly, male characters echo Adam's Biblical blaming of Eve, "It was the woman who bade me eat." 

    But the most important reminder in Arcadia of Eden is an apple.

    The play alternates between two times, the early 1800s and the present. Both times take place in the same space, with the same furniture. In the third scene, Septimus, in 1809, picks up an apple and removes its leaves and twig. He eats part of the apple and feeds part to his pet tortoise. In the next scene, in present time, Hannah picks up the very leaf Septimus had left there on the table.

    The apple, or its leaf at least, is important because it is the traditional symbol of the loss of Eden. It is important also because here in the play, the apple leaf is used in both time-realms to discuss scientific knowledge.

    The myths of Arcadia and Eden, in a sense, compete against science as ways to understand the world, especially as each posits an explanation of why humans do what they do. The irascible poet Lord Byron, an off-stage character in the play, charmingly establishes the ground rules for this dynamic in his comic masterpiece, Don Juan:

    When Newton saw an apple fall, he found
        In that slight startle from his contemplation --
    'Tis said (for I'll not answer above ground
        For any sage's creed or calculation) --
    A mode of proving that the Earth turned round
        In a most natural whirl, called "gravitation";
    And this is the sole mortal who could grapple,
    Since Adam -- with a fall -- or with an apple.

    In other words, the rest of us mortals understood neither how nor why our world is what it is until Newton told us. But I'm never sure whether Byron means what he says.  Alexander Pope, some half century earlier than Byron, is unambiguous: "Nature and Nature's Laws lay in darkness of night;/God said, 'Let Newton be!' and all was light."

    Young, precocious Thomasina, the central character of the play, in 1809, poses the question, "Is God a Newtonian?" As she grapples with the issues of free will, she sees into the future of science and mathematics. She anticipates by 15 years the discovery of the second law of thermodynamics (the inevitable cooling down of the world and everything in it).  She also foresees by more than a century both fractals and chaos theory. These latter two involve iteration.

    And that's the center of the play, though Thomasina Coverly never quite knows what she has uncovered. Iteration, in the scientific sense, seems to explain all sorts of phenomena—nature is constantly repeating itself, and that repetition can often be mapped in advance by numbers. There are formulas for fractals, for example, that the computer of our day makes possible. And the human species is constantly repeating itself, but those actions can be chartered only statistically for groups—actuarial tables or voting polls. The actions of individual humans, however, cannot be similarly charted. Or, perhaps, those actions of specific people can be charted only in reverse, a tenuous enterprise at best—note Bernard's and Hannah's efforts in the play. Only we, the audience, like God, can perceive both time realms of the play and see the patterns. In other words, Adam and Eve keep falling over and over again, but always for the first time, and all Arcadias are lost again and again, but as individual dramas, maybe even tragedies.

    Stoppard doesn't want things to seem so bleak. "Et in Arcadia Ego," a phrase which occupies a few minutes of the play, literally means "And I in Arcadia." Historically, the phrase has been interpreted in two ways, both of which are mentioned in the play. Some critics say the phrase is in the voice of Death and thus it means "Even in Arcadia there is Death." Others assert that the phrase is in the voice of a dead Arcadian: "I once lived in Paradise." In Stoppard's use, both views are relevant. They join to make the play's poignant paradox:  "Yes, Death comes into the world, but the lives of individuals involve such joy, such love, that losing paradise is a small price to pay." 

                Patrick McGuire
                University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Tom Stoppard’s career as a playwright spans more than forty years. In 1966, his first well-known play, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern are Dead, won numerous awards in England and America. It established Stoppard’s reputation for plays of verbal and philosophic dexterity and unusual staging. His subsequent plays often involve fictional characters or historical personages in free-wheeling comedies: James Joyce and Vladimir Lenin in Travesties (1974); Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth (1979); Oxford don A.E. Housman in The Invention of Love (1997); and Russian radicals Bekunin and Belinsky in The Coast of Utopia, a trilogy, (2007).

Stoppard’s work in film includes adaptations of Empire of the Sun (1987), The Russia House (1990) and Enigma (2001) as well as original screenplays, as co-author, for Brazil (1985) and Shakespeare in Love (1998).

Because Stoppard was born in Zlin, Czechoslovakia, and later became a British citizen, he refers to himself as a “bounced Czech.”

A large country house in Derbyshire, England
All action takes place in a room near the garden that doubles for a classroom.
Act 1
Scene 1 - 1809
Scene 2 - Present day
Scene 3 - 1809
Scene 4 - Present day
Act 2
Scene 5 - Present day
Scene 6 -  1809 
Scene 7 - Present day and 1809

In order of appearance
Thomasina Coverly...Erin Rigik
Septimus Hodge...Kyle Martin
Jellaby...Ryan Weel
Ezra Chater...Tom Camacho
Richard Noakes...Michael Villarreal
Lady Croom...Cheryl Lyman
Captain Brice...Ben Arrington
Hannah Jarvis...Melanie Bujan
Chloe Coverly...Jillian Rafa
Bernard Nightingale...David Ropinski
Valentine Coverly...Rand Ringgenberg
Gus Coverly & Augustus Coverly...Andrew Berlien

Production Crew
Producer...Anna Antaramian
Director...Anna Antaramian
Stage Manager...Kyle Young
Scenic Designer/Co-Tech Director...Jessica Kuehnau
Light Designer/Co-Tech Director...John Rodriguez
Costume Designer...Jana Anderson
Sound Designer...Nikola Ranguelov
Master Electrician...Eric Senne
Poster/Brochure Designer...Melody Baghdasarian
Theatre Manager...Sara Moss
Assistant Theatre Managers...Laura Gryfinski and
                                                        Laura Aldmeyer
House Manager...Heather Llanes
Box Office Manager...Marjie Kranz
Assistant Box Office Manager...Lisette Munoz
Theatre Bookkeeper...Becca Raven Uminowicz
Light Board Operator...Rasa Aliukonyte
Sound Board Operator...James Mallory
Props...Holly Hoffman
Set Construction...Theatre Practicum class

Cast Profiles _________________________

Erin Rigik (Thomasina) is a graduate of Bradley University where she majored in theatre performance and minored in journalism and creative writing. After graduation, Erin enjoyed a stint as an English teacher in Japan and traveled around Asia. These days she is happy to be back home in Chicago, writing/editing for Baking Management magazine by day and pursuing theatre at night. Most recently she acted Cyrano’s Devotion with Tantalus Theatre Group, which you can see again at Looptopia this spring. Erin would like to thank her family, friends and co-workers for their support. She is excited to be playing Thomasina.



Kyle Martin (Septimus) is a recent graduate of Ball State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance. Kyle acted in Stop Kiss at Ball State and in Fools and Moon Over Buffalo at the local community theatre. He is thrilled to be making his Chicago debut in Arcadia. He would like to thank his family and friends for all of their support

Ryan Weel (Jellaby) is performing for the second time at NEIU Stage Center Theatre. He has been involved in many musicals and plays throughout his career as a Professional Actor. He has been involved in productions such as Guys and Dolls and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He has enjoyed working with the cast and crew of this production of Arcadia. 

Tom Camacho (Chater) is elated to be a part of Arcadia, his third production at the Stage Center Theatre. Along with acting and working toward his master’s degree in the Department of Communication, Media & Theatre, he is dedicated to creating possibilities for youth in the areas of the arts and art based education. Along with being the Grants Manager for the Collaboration Theater and the Development/Education Outreach Coordinator for Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, he founded and operates The Serendipity Youth Theatre, a non-profit organization.

Michael Villarreal (Noakes) is a writer, actor, director and community activist and a Chicago native.  Michael is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University and has also studied at Piven Theatre Company, The Second City, The Annoyance Theatre and Victory Gardens Theatre.  He recently directed La Carlota, the winner of the 2007 Playwright Competition at NEIU.  His other recent writing and directing credits include:   Sangre de Atole, A Blank Stare is Better Than an Empty Chair and El Matador.  Michael is also Co-Artistic Director of Salsation Theatre Company, and Founder of Hot Mess Productions, a theatre company dedicated to community based writing and presentations.  He is grateful for the opportunity to work with such a talented cast.  Michael would also like to say: Hello.

Cheryl Lyman (Lady Croom) is elated to be performing in Arcadia at Stage Center Theatre. She appeared last semester in Mrs. Warren’s Profession and wants to thank Rodney and Anna for giving her the chance to work with them, as well as the cast and crew of both shows for being so delightful. Cheryl was also seen last spring in Red Ink Productions of First Free’s performance of Neil Simon’s God’s Favorite, and sends thanks to Wenda and Scott for all their support and encouragement. To the Lundgren clan (and everyone who married into it and the broods they’ve hatched) she sends her love and gratitude for being such a wonderful family. Special thanks go to Nancy and Alex for putting up with her talking funny to herself all the time.

Ben Arrington (Captain Brice) is happy to make his Stage Center Theatre debut performance.  He has worked as the Assistant Director on The Skin of Our Teeth.  He plans to continue working with the Stage Center Theatre   He is a major in the Justice Studies Dept. here at NEIU.  He hopes to have a career in public administration in the future.  He would like to thank his mother especially for making him who is he today.

Melanie Bujan (Hannah) is pleased to return to Stage Center Theatre’s main stage. She last appeared in Spring 2006 in The Waiting Room. More recent credits include the part of Edmee in Edward Albee’s Finding the Sun and with a cast of crazy characters in N.F. Simpson’s Was He Anyone? at the Stage Center Studio. Directing credits include Susan Cinoman’s Fitting Rooms, also for the Stage Center Studio. Off stage, Melanie plays a mild-mannered instructor in the CMT department with a penchant for the humorous. She thanks: the talented cast, with special thanks to Rand and Dave, for their support; Anna, for this tremendous opportunity; and Bob, for keeping me honest to my character.

Jillian Rafa (Chole) Jillian is so excited to be a part of Arcadia.  A Chicago native, Jillian received her B.S. in theatre from Ball State University.  Previous roles include Bardolph in Henry IV, Stella in A  Streetcar Named Desire and Boo in Blue Window.

David Ropinski (Bernard) is pleased to be performing in this production of Arcadia. He graduated from NEIU with a double major in Art and Communication, Media and Theatre. He would like to thank his Mom, Dad, Amy, Becky, Mary, Brandy, Tracey, Alan, Susan and especially this very talented cast and crew.

Rand Ringgenberg (Valentine) is happily returning to this side of the curtain, after a 14 year absence. He has been busy over the years working behind the scenes doing hair, wigs, and makeup designs for many different theatres, including Steppenwolf, The Goodman, Northeastern Illinois University, and last year a production of Arcadia at the Court Theatre. Rand is a freshman here at NEIU, returning to school after many years. He is majoring in the Department of Communication, Media and Theatre. He is also the lyricist on a musical called The Ceiling, which had a workshop production at Moraine Valley Community College.

Andrew Berlien (Gus/Augustus) returns to the Stage Center Theatre again this season, he was just seen in Private Eyes, in 2003 Lend Me A Tenor and in 2004 The Real Inspector Hound. He is also the recipient of the 2003 Rebecca Ashley Thatcher Award for Excellence in Dramatics. A native son of his beloved City of Big Shoulders, Andrew has bided his time lurking in the dangerous, murky, enticing waters of professional musicianship, and is delighted to once again take the stage with such a wonderful and dynamic cast. He would like to thank everyone involved with this production for the opportunity to shine. Oh, and Mom, Dad, all my loved ones...My shoes hurt for you too.

Artistic Staff Profiles____________________

Anna Antaramian
(Director) has been a member of NEIU’s theatre family for the past eighteen years. She is the Managing and Artistic Director of the Stage Center Theatre, Thymely Theatre and is a past president of the Illinois Theatre Association. She holds an M.F.A. from New York University and has worked in various theatrical venues across the country, the most recent being the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre. Special thanks to H-S-A-N-T and, as always, Mr. McGuire

Jessica Kuehnau (Scenic Designer/Co-Tech Director) is pleased to be designing sets for the Stage Center Theatre. Since completing her MFA in Scenic and Costume Design at Northwestern University, she has been designing sets and costumes for such notable theatres as Lifeline Theatre, MPAACT, The Griffin, Vittum Theatre, Light Opera Works and Metropolis Performing Arts Center. Currently on stage are her costume designs for August Wilson’s Jitney (Pegasus Players) and an adaptation of the children’s story Half Magic (Lifeline Theatre). Ms. Kuehnau is also the resident set designer, technical director and design professor at North Park University.

John Rodriguez
(Lighting Designer/Co-Tech Director) joined the theatre faculty at NEIU four years ago and has been teaching courses in technical theatre as well as working as a designer  on Stage Center Theatre productions. This past summer he designed the lights for The Heidi Chronicles, The Lady’s Not For Burning, and for this season Mrs. Warren’s Profession, The Skin of Our Teeth and Private Eyes.

Jana Anderson (Costume Design) is delighted to be working with the Stage Center Theatre again. Her work has been featured by numerous theater groups including Redmoon Theater, Light Opera Works, Irish Repertory Theatre, Rivendell, Experimental Theatre and Collaboraction. Prior to coming to the United States, Jana created elaborate costumes for classical opera productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia. She also attended the University of Art in Bratislava, where her interest in working on period pieces originated. Since moving to Chicago in 1977 her focus has been to create costumes for theatres. However her costume designs have also been featured in fashion photo shoots and advertising campaigns. When she is not preparing costumes for theatrical productions, Jana is busy designing and creating unique haute coterie fashions for individual clients in the United States and Europe. 

Kyle Young (Stage Manager) has been Stage Manager for Private Eyes and has acted in Three Cuckholds, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and The Skin of Our Teeth. He would like to thank Anna, Rodney, Dan, Bill, everyone in the cast and the audience. But most of all, Kyle would like to thank Sara Moss.


Special Thanks...
The Department of Communication, Media & Theatre Faculty and Staff;
The departments of Accounts Payable and Budget; Tom Hutchings, Lyn Taliaferro and Bob McKenney in  Purchasing;
Russ Grovak and Printing Services; Bob Ritsema for academic publicity.

We would like to thank
Mary Santana and
the Miracle Center for
the Opening Night Reception.

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