The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

NW play goes deep into Nazi psyche

By Joshua Knopp/entertainment editor

A play about the trial and conviction of members of The Order, a neo-Nazi group that operated in the Northwest United States in the 1980s, opens the NW Campus theater season.

God’s Country, a play by Steven Dietz, will run Oct. 13-17.

The Order was formed by Robert Jay Matthews with the intent of sectioning off a portion of land for its members into which no Jews or non-whites would be allowed. The group began this process by committing violent crimes to raise money. They ran a large counterfeiting operation and robbed many banks, armored trucks and one sex shop.

They also committed crimes that were not money-based, including the bombing of a theater and synagogue and the murder of Jewish radio host Alan Berg. Most members were convicted on charges of racketeering or sedition.

“Yes, it’s about all that,” said Anthony Burkmier, playing defense attorney Mr. Jones. “But it’s also about discrimination … it’s a lot of other things surrounding the trial.”

Bridget Cooney plays Halprin, another defense attorney.

“It gives the impression of the whole neo-Nazi movement, not just The Order,” she added.

The play has caused the actors to examine Nazism and racism more closely. 

“You don’t just wake up one day and you’re Hitler,” said John Wade, who plays Denver Parmenter, a member of The Order who is flipped by the authorities. “One of the questions of this show is ‘How do you get to this point?’”

Aaron Sawyer said he had trouble coming to terms with playing Matthews, the leader of The Order. “In a sense you can kind of get the mindset of the people,” he said “I can reason with it, but I cannot agree with it personally.”

The correlation to the modern polarizing political environment with a racial subtext is one reason director Josh Blann selected God’s Country.

“We chose this one because we thought it would be right for the students we have right now, and the issues it portrays are very pertinent,” he said.

Blann also talked about using multimedia, projected video, lighting techniques, contemporary sound and modern staging techniques to modernize the performance.

“We’re taking a show written for the late 1980s, and we’re telling it in a fashion that works in 2010,” he said.

Wade said: “It’s not just another play saying, ‘Hey, did you know? Racism!’ It’s going to be like watching a documentary film on a stage.”

The play examines The Order and racism in general. It represents a dark segment of human history.

“It’s a story that needs to be told,” Sawyer said.

Performances will be in Theatre Northwest at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday with a 2 p.m. matinee Sunday. Tickets are free for all TCC students, faculty and staff, $3 for other students and seniors and $6 for the general public. Call the box office at 817-515-7724 for reservations.

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