A Sunday at the Theatre

ARMS AND THE MANThe Special Events Committee invites Senior College students to spend the afternoon of Sunday, September 11 at a performance of George Bernard Shaw’s “Arms and the Man,” offered by the highly regarded Midcoast Actors’ Studio of Belfast. The afternoon includes a pre-play introduction to Shaw and his work with Charlotte Herbold, long-time Senior College teacher; a brief conversation with the director, Wendy Schweikert, and reduced-price tickets to the matinee performance. We will meet at 12:30 at the Troy-Howard Middle School library. The performance will follow at 2:00pm

The special ticket price for members of Senior College will be $10 per person at the door (no advance sales), and includes the introduction and admission to the play. Just inform the ticket seller that you are a member of Senior College.

All are welcome.

The play takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. Its heroine, Raina Petkoff, is a young Bulgarian woman engaged to Sergius Saranoff, one of the heroes of that war, whom she idolizes. One night, a Swiss mercenary soldier in the Serbian army, Captain Bluntschli, climbs in through her bedroom balcony window and threatens to shoot Raina if she gives the alarm. When Russian/Bulgarian troops burst in to search the house for him, Raina hides him so that he won’t be killed. Bluntschli’s attitude towards war and soldiering (pragmatic and practical as opposed to Raina’s idealistic views) shocks her, especially after he admits that he uses his ammunition pouches to carry chocolates rather than cartridges for his pistol. When the search dies down, Raina and her mother Catherine sneak Bluntschli out of the house, disguised in an old housecoat.

The war ends with the Bulgarians and Serbians signing a peace treaty and Sergius returns to Raina, but also flirts with her insolent servant girl Louka who is engaged to Nicola, the Petkoffs’ manservant. Raina begins to find Sergius both foolhardy and tiresome, but she hides it. Bluntschli unexpectedly returns so that he can give back the old housecoat, but also so that he can see her. Afterwards, left alone with Bluntschli, Raina realizes that he sees through her romantic posturing, but that he respects her as a woman, as Sergius does not. She tells him that she had left a photograph of herself in the pocket of the coat, inscribed “To my chocolate-cream soldier”, but Bluntschli says that he didn’t find it and that it must still be in the coat pocket. Bluntschli gets a telegram informing him of his father’s death and revealing to him his now-enormous inheritance. Louka then tells Sergius that Bluntschli is the man whom Raina protected and that Raina is really in love with him. Sergius challenges Bluntschli to a duel.

After Bluntschli reveals the whole story to Major Petkoff, Sergius proposes marriage to Louka. Nicola quietly and gallantly lets Sergius have her, and Bluntschli, recognising Nicola’s dedication and ability, determines to offer him a job as a hotel manager.

While Raina is now unattached, Bluntschli protests that—being 34 and believing she is 17—he is too old for her. On learning that she is actually 23, he immediately proposes marriage and proves his wealth and position by listing his inheritance from the telegram. Raina, realizing the hollowness of her romantic ideals, protests that she would prefer her poor “chocolate-cream soldier” to this wealthy businessman. Bluntschli says that he is still the same person, and the play ends with Raina proclaiming her love for him and Bluntschli, with Swiss precision, both clearing up the major’s troop movement problems and informing everyone that he will return to be married to Raina exactly two weeks from Tuesday.