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Campus Celeb: Jack Reitman

This week’s campus celebrity, Jack Reitman, speaks about his lead role as Eddie Birdlace in the upcoming musical Dogfight by Musical Theatre Bristol (MTB). Jack is also currently rehearsing as A-Rab in West Side Story, the Vice-President of MTB and was the director of Into The Woods last year.

Catch Dogfight from the 3rd-5th of December in the Pegg Theatre at the Student Union. Get your tickets here.

Could you give us a synopsis of Dogfight? No spoilers please!

The show tells a story of a group of marines attending a “Dogfight” on their last night in 1963 before they left for Vietnam. A “Dogfight” was an actual tradition that would be completely unacceptable today. Basically, the men had all put 50 dollars into a pot and their aim was to bring the ugliest girl to the event. The winner of the lump sum would be the guy who had the ugliest date. The show portrays these men as so caught up with a marine mind-set of going to Vietnam, that they had no sense of humanity for anyone else, let alone the women who they brought to the dance. Eddie brings a girl called Rose and she manages to completely change his boisterous perspective and his patriarchal outlook on life. That’s why in 1967 when Eddie returns to the US, after Eddie has experienced the horrors from war, he searches for Rose.   

What made a girl ‘ugly’ during that time?

It’s very much set in the context of what the men would have deemed unattractive.

The whole concept of ugly girls was really a sticking point and was quite a controversy when the show first came out. Obviously to portray women like that these days is absolutely awful. The irony is the girls in the show are gorgeous; the most amazing, talented, intelligent women that are just playing these characters that the men see as unattractive. It’s much more a negative reflection of the men’s ignorance than of the women.

(Photo Credit: Gabriel Mokake and EDEL Graphic Design)

Were there any problems getting people to audition?

When I was trying to promote the auditions and I told people the plot, I got some responses like “Oh I’m not auditioning for that – I don’t want to be cast as an ugly girl.” But it’s like saying you don’t want to be cast in Titus Andronicus because you are not a murderer and you don’t want to go around killing people. But in general, there weren’t too many problems. I think the director and the assistant-director, who are both women, have grasped the themes really well and that really drew people in.

Why is it being shown in the Pegg Theatre?

The way we’ve chosen to lay out the play is called “thrust.” Effectively, the stage protrudes out into the audience and so we have viewers from all three sides. This means that the audience will have a really intimate experience and the furthest away you’re going to be from the stage is about a metre. The small size of the Pegg Theatre works well with this staging to create an intense environment, because it only seats about 60 people. This is something that Hope (the director) really wants the audience to feel – like they’re immersed in the musical and not straining to see the stage from 100 meters away. 

Maesya is the Campus Celebrity Collumnist for Her Campus Bristol.She is a huge health and fitness advocate and a massive dog lover!
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