FMCT presents “The Nerd”
Performances February 7, 8, 13, 14, 15 at 7:30 and February 9, 16 at 2:00
The Stage at Island Park
The term “nerd” has come a long way from its entry into common usage back in the 1950s. Its history runs through caricatures in the “Revenge of the Nerd” movies and became a pejorative for people whose fascination with pursuits like computer programming or “Dungeons and Dragons” cast them with a social stigma. Today, with many of those same people now running high-profile tech companies and making blockbuster films, “nerd” has taken on a new life; the term is now badge of pride for someone who finds an object for their deepest passions. Theoretically, someone once known as a “jock” could now be described as a “sports nerd.”
That’s part of the reason why FMCT’s upcoming production of “The Nerd,” a two-act comedy by American playwright Larry Shue, will be a period piece. Granted, the play is also set in the 80s and includes plenty of Reagan-era references, but the titular character of the play also bears little resemblance to Facebook’s Cool Nerd in Chief Mark Zuckerberg.
“He’s all those things that really annoy people, like misuse of personal space and misinterpreting social cues, rolled into one being,” says “Nerd” director Lori Koenig in describing the character Rick Steadman, played in this production by Jay Nelson. For instance, she says, Rick gets out a tambourine at the end of the first act and sings himself “The Star Spangled Banner” as a way to get himself to sleep – hardly an act of someone keen to social norms.
Aside from its treatment of nerds, the play also represents one of two farces written by Shue, both widely performed (the other being “The Foreigner”). Shue, also an actor, had his life cut short by a plane crash at the age of 39. Koenig says she’s fond of Shue’s work and was thrilled to be part of a production of “The Nerd.”
“They have been great to work with,” she says of the “Nerd” cast, “we’ve worked hard when we’ve been here, we’ve worked hard when we haven’t been here. We’ve gotten to be pretty good friends through all of this and that’s what community theatre is all about, building those relationships and creating art together.”
Image: (from l to r) Eric Kloster (Axel), Nicole LeBlanc (Tansy), Jay Nelson (Rick), and Chris Horsager (Willum) rehearse “The Nerd” at The Stage at Island Park on Monday.