"After Us The Savage God" brings tense drama to theater

A young farmer must decide whether or not to sell his farm and lose his sister to a manipulative mayor after his debt-ridden father commits suicide during a drought in a high-tension staged reading of "After Us the Savage God." The play, written by Santa Monica College public information officer Bruce Smith, was read and emotionally performed in the Theater Arts Studio Stage on Friday, Sept. 16.

The audience was engulfed in a dramatic story as Matt (Logan Fahey) dealt with imminent foreclosure and Mayor Murd (Jeff Harlan), who has his eyes on Matt's emotionally despondent sister Clarissa while offering to buy his farm.

The dilemma posed to Matt is whether he should sell off to the mayor to revisit his lost dream of playing professional baseball or stay and protect his sister and try keeping the farm from being seized by the bank. Farmhand Bill, played by Robert Ray Shafer from the NBC series "The Office," reveals something about Murd that helps Matt make his decision in the final emotional scene.

Smith's script at times uses water as a symbol of power, arrogantly dished out by the calculating mayor.

Director Andre Barron guides the actors’ performances that lead the empathetic audience to feel the struggle with Matt and Clarissa in the last scene of the two-act plays.

The dramatic reading was followed by a Q&A session with the actors, writer, and director. Many audience members felt that the play reflected our current economic crisis with the role big businesses play in the lives of the lower class.

The play was built on a medley of research and a creative process. Smith was inspired by the plight of Alaskan farmers, many of which commit suicide.

Without first hand experience, Smith used research to connect the pieces of the story. Smith went to professors on campus and his own research to find out if his story could be plausible in real life.

The title of the play came as Smith viewed an art exhibit of evil and on one caption he saw the quote written by W.B. Yeats. The message, according to Smith, is "if we are not careful with our world then god will take over, we saw it happen tonight with this family."