December 2, 1969
The N.C. Essay
%iliom ’ Is Non
Shocking Love Story
By Beverly Wolter
Staff Arti Reporter
I _ “A sentimental piece in an anti-senti-
friental time” is the way Robert Murray
lescribes • Ferenc Molnar’s play
The play will open at 8:15 p.m. Thurs
day in the theater of the North Carolina
School of the Arts. Murray is directing
the show, which will be repeated at 8:15
p.m. daily through Dec. 11, except Sun
day, Dec, 7, when it will be given at 7:30
p.m. Admission will be charged.
Murray and Charles Evans, head.of
design for the theater, have worked
closely on the production. One of Evans’
sets will include a carnival merry-go-
round. Th^ musical, “Carousel,” was
based on “Liliom.” Music is used in
“Liliom,” but only for background.
“Most of theater now,” Murray said,
“is the theater of shock, of nudity, of
“In ‘Liliom,’ you really see a love
story, where holding hands can mean as
much as the more passionate behavior
of people that is so prominent today in
the movies and on Broadway.
“I think the theater in New York has
reached an impasse,” he said.
“Liliom,” he said, is not one of those
love stories where “you either see them
in the sack, or you don’t see what they
sea in each other. ,
“There’s not a kiss in it. There’s, not
*n embrace. Yet it’s a love stoty.”
The play, he said, is a legend. “It
moves in and out of realism. ,
“The simple truth of the play is that
you can’t always judge a man by his
Liliom is a carnival barker, a rough
but appealing man. He treats his wife,
Julie, brutally at times, yet he loves her
deeply. His behavior simply contradicts
The name “Liliom” means “lily” in
Himgarian — Molnar was a Hungarian
playwright — and is applied “to a guy
wlio’s no good,” Murray said.
But Liliom, he said, is “filled with the
joy of living — he’s a Zorba the Greek
—the kind of man who rouses the envy
and admiration of those who always do
thg right thing” and follow the careers
pldtted for them.
Murray said he had a little trouble
with his student actors’ reaction to a fan
tasy scene in which Liliom is judged aft
er his death and given a chance to come
back to earth briefly to try to make
amends for his previous faults.
“They tittered at the judgment scene,”
he said, but Murray' stopped the mirth
when he pointed out that the judgment
scene, as far as reality was concerned,
bore a close parallel to current devotion
to the meaning of the signs of the zodiac,
and to conversations related to extra
sensory perception and telepathy.
“This is the reality I hear in the cafe
teria,” Murray said. “An Aries shouldn’t
go with a Leo, or something like that.”
He is using primarily sophomores and
jimiors in the play.
“I’m trying to get actors to know who
they are, by playing something close to
them in age,” he said. They can come
later to the classics of an earlier period.
Murray also said, “This is a show any
one can see — the children — the whole
family. There’s something in it for every
• In his scenery, Evans said he aimed
at providing a setting appropriate to peo
ple he called “simple, working class,
marginal people who have largely dis
appeared in America. We all think of our
selves as middle-class Americans.
“This is something out of the past.
“These are hand-to-mouth people,” he
To try to convey the idea, he said,
he is designing the exterior, of dwellings
along the lines of gypsy wagons.
A number of sets are called for. The
number has not presented as much prob
lem for Evans as the difficulties offered
by the theater.
“That old gymnasium doesn’t make it
easy,” he said. (The theater is housed in
a former gymnasium.)
“I’d like to get in a plug for that,”
he said. He would like to see better fa
cilities to attract actors and designers.