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Bringing a classic to stage

April 19, 2012
By STACEY KUKKONEN - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CALUMET - The Calumet High School Drama Club is tackling a well-known story for their play this spring and the local school districts are invited to attend.

The drama club presents "Fahrenheit 451" at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Calumet Theatre.

"Since it's such a classic and taught in so many schools, we thought we would open it up to schools in the area," said Director David Heinz. "It's part of the curriculum in a lot of schools."

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Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Calumet High School senior Matt Riutta, playing Guy Montag, rehearses “Fahrenheit 451” with fellow senior Tia Swanson, playing Clarisse McLellan, at the Calumet Theatre Tuesday evening. “Fahrenheit 451” will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Calumet Theatre.

More than 300 students from different schools will be attending the play, and additionally, Heinz said students from Calumet are coming as well.

"Fahrenheit 451" is a dystopian novel set years into the future despite being written in the 1950s by Ray Bradbury. The story centers around a world where the written word is outlawed.

"Rather than firemen fight house fires and go to houses to put out fires, their job is to find books and burn books," he said. "Everyone just sits around and watches their big screen TVs."

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Written in the '50s, the author needed to make predictions about what the world would be like today.

In the story, the main character, Guy Montag, played by 12th-grade student Matt Riutta, meets his new quirky neighbor named Clarisse McLellan, played by Tia Swanson, a 12th-grade student. The carefree 17-year-old opens his eyes to a new world and makes him think about things in a new light.

"He then needs to go to a fire where the woman refuses to leave," Heinz said. "She chooses to stay with her books and that shakes his foundation."

Montag then starts reading books after being intrigued by the events that surround him. His fire chief, a character who wants to burn everything, actually owns books of her own but doesn't read them, Heinz said.

"They have this antagonistic relationship because she sees him slowly come alive and she tries to convince him that the firemen are doing the right thing by burning the books," he said.

Eleventh-grade student JeniRae Woods plays the fire chief, who was originally a male role but was changed to a female for this production.

"The fire chief captain, Beatty, is the main antagonist even though she was very much in love with books at a young age," Woods said. "She then devoted his life to burning books. She joined in the revolution."

Swanson, dressed in a bright, yellow dress, said she enjoys playing the odd character.

"I'm different that everybody else," she said.

Montag is the character with the most transformation as he develops throughout the story. When he meets Clarisse, he is intrigued by her different lifestyle.

"He struggles with himself," Riutta said.

Tickets are available at the door and at the Calumet Theatre Box Office.



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