Zero luck

Adrian Northrup

The upcoming performance of “The Adding Machine” is not just a University Theatre play for sophomore Christian Krueger

Beyond being the opening campus production, this marks the first main stage performance for Krueger.

“I’m way more excited than nervous,” he said. “But there’s always kind of that nerving feeling.”

In high school, Krueger was in every show that was offered, he said. Now, he’s looking forward to his first appearance.

“I’m a theater major, so I’m always looking for the opportunity,” he said. “I do it for myself and the enjoyment more than anything else.”

On Thursday, Krueger and the rest of the cast of “The Adding Machine” will take the stage for the opening show.

“The Adding Machine” tells a story of the life of a man named Mr. Zero, who, like his name infers, lives a mundane life.

“He goes to work everyday and he’s never late and he’s really proud of that, but at the same time you see the repetition of his life,” said senior Mike Evano, who plays Zero.

After working at the same job for 25 years,

Zero is called into his boss’ office for what Zero hopes to be a discussion for a raise.

His boss instead fires him, saying an adding machine will be taking his place.

“He finally makes his first, real concrete choice,” Evano said. “And he kills his boss when he’s fired.”

Although not blatantly stated, it is inferred that Zero then is sentenced to death for the murder, Evano said.

Written by Elmer Rice, this 1923 play takes a look into the expressionistic voyage of life and the afterlife of Zero, director Richard Nimke said.

“It’s showing the subjective experience of Mr. Zero. It’s not reality as we see it or as we observe it in everyday life, but through his eyes and the way that he experiences it and the way he feels about things and the people around him,” he said. “It really is the impact of an industrialized, materialistic society on this zero, on this loser.”

The play’s themes and tones take on different emotions, Nimke said, ranging from humor to heavy.

“At times the play is very funny, at times it’s very thought provoking and at times it’s offensive,” he said noting certain characters’ racist, bigoted or small-minded views.

Beyond the fact that Zero is replaced by a device, Nimke said the title, “The Adding Machine,” can also allude to the idea that we are all just valued as numbers.

“It’s the idea that we’re reduced in society to numbers. We have student ID numbers . the government knows us by a social security number,” he said, “the idea that the individual becomes less important than a number.”

The play, which is written in the expressionistic form, may seem a bit unusual to the audience, who is more used to a realism performance, Nimke said.

“It’s unusual for the actors as well; it’s not something they’re used to performing,” he said. “They’re playing characters the way Zero feels about them rather than the way people actually exist.”

The cast of “The Adding Machine” has been preparing for the show’s debut since the first week of September.

Since then, they have worked about three hours a day, five days a week, plus the outside memorization of each actor, Evano said.

Being able to pick the brains of veteran actors while rehearsing the play was useful, said Krueger, who plays the character of Shrdlu.

“It’s nice to be able to look to someone who knows what to look for from the director,” he said. “It’s useful and exciting. I’m glad there’s been that opportunity.”

Having such a diverse cast of newcomers and more experienced returners was a great mix, Nimke said.

“One of the things about theater is you approach it, and in particularly a piece like this, as an ensemble,” he said. “I think what ends up happening so often in theater is that the new people are indoctrinated by the more experienced individuals.

“By the time we’re at this point in the rehearsal process, it’s almost difficult to tell who’s experienced and who isn’t because there’s such a bonding that takes place.”

Although the play was written in the early 1920s, Nimke and Evano said they hope the audience is able to pick out themes that relate to their lives today.

“I really think this is a play that could speak to a lot of university students,” Evano said. “I think at times we all feel we are stuck in that same kind of Zero-esque rut.”

When asked how the audience might respond to a piece like this, Nimke replied, “I have no idea,” with a laugh.

“I’ll be anxious to see,” he said. “I’ll be interested to hear student’s responses to what they think the relevancy is of the play.”

Evano agreed.

“You always hope they enjoy it,” he said. “I hope the audience will come willing to hang up reality for an hour and a half and let us take them for a ride.”

As for Krueger’s big debut on the main stage, he said he’s ready and happy to be a part of it all.

“It’s the first time I’ve come in contact with people who put in the time and make it everything it can be,” he said. “I’m really, really excited.”