Operation Sidewinder- a play by Columbia College

I really like this image that they chose to use for their poster. You'll like the snake in the actual play even more.

A description of  Operation Sidewinder claims it is about the dehumanization through technology– a cautionary tale to people today. The play was written by Sam Shepard in 1970. In this play, a sophisticated Air Force computer in the form of a snake (called “Sidewinder”) is loose in the Mojave Desert. The plot centers around several groups of people: Hopi Indians, the armed forces, tourists, and drug dealers, and how the existence of this computer impacts their lives. The play is broken up into segments, separated by music from the 70’s era played by a live band.

My appreciation of the arts comes from when an art piece– whether it is a painting, music, or theatrical performance– evokes an emotional reaction from me. If that music can capture my joy within its notes, or if an actress’s tears drag me into pitying a fictional character, that is my determination of whether an artistic piece is beautiful, skillful, or just enjoyable.

That said, I still can’t tell you whether the play Operation Sidewinder is beautiful or shows Shepard’s artistic skills, but I’ll have to say I enjoyed it!

Here are the reasons I feel you should watch this play:

#1) See a talented cast- The talent of Columbia College really shines through this play. Though the play is marked by a few instances of over-acting, I was still laughing my heart out when the German scientist in a wheelchair decorated with gaudy German eagles (and a weakness for Altoids) began chasing another actor around the stage.  But overall, seeing this play gives you a good sampling of the talent present at Columbia.

#2) Soak in an interesting plot- I am horrible at looking at the deeper meaning of things in movies or plays (bad news for a therapist in training, huh?). That said, maybe I missed the whole “dehumanization through technology” thing. I just didn’t see it. What I did see was the struggle under an unfair system. I saw the juxtaposition between blind optimism and hopeless struggling, and I saw a re-connection with spirituality. And one hell of a weird ending that lends itself to individual interpretation. But hey, at the very least, there’s still the crazy German scientist I mentioned earlier.

#3) Appreciate an AMAZING BAND- I was most impressed by the band that plays between each segment. If you’re a fan of rock, you should really appreciate what these musicians have to offer. They demonstrate an array of different styles, tones, tempos, and moods. Daniel praised their ability to keep the bass  audible, and I thoroughly enjoyed the presence that the band carried on stage. My favorite songs they played were “CIA Man” and “Euphoria”. I’ll have to admit that they were my absolute favorite part of the play.

#4) See a glowing, robotic snake puppet– Just do it. I liked it– it flicks its tongue and is skilled with the ladies.

I really don’t want to give away too much about what happens in the play, but if you’re open-minded to plays of a…well, “different” nature, if you like rock music, are fascinated by Native American culture, or like puppetry, I recommend coming to see Operation Sidewinder at the Getz Theater. Upcoming performances are:

Wednesday, February 22 7:30pm
Thursday, February 23 7:30pm
Friday, February 24 7:30pm
Saturday, February 25 2:00pm

For more information, go to: http://www.colum.edu/theater_center/main-productions/operation-sidewinder.php


Getz Theatre
72 East 11th Street
Chicago, IL

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Operation Sidewinder- a play by Columbia College

  1. Janey

    My boyfriend made the snake! 😀

    • Tell him he did a FANTASTIC job! I was amazed by how neat it was to look at. Truly good work, especially since it went through a great deal during the play.

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