Medical Tuesday Blog

The American Conservatory Theatre: Dead Metaphor

May 29

Written by: Del Meyer
05/29/2017 1:23 PM 

A.C.T. Presents the World Premiere of George F. Walker’s Hilarious Political Comedy
Dead Metaphor

February 28 to March 24, 2013

Directed by Irene Lewis, this dark comedy–from one of Canada’s most acclaimed playwrights–satirizes the hypocrisies and politics of postwar living

A soldier returns from the Middle East to find work in this audacious and hilarious dark comedy

SAN FRANCISCO (January 15, 2013)—American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) welcomes the . . . world premiere of Dead Metaphor —George F. Walker’s dark comedy that satirizes the hypocrisies and politics of postwar living. When Dean returns home from the war in the Middle East and hits the job market, he discovers that his superior military skills don’t get him very far in the business world. His readjustment to non-bunker life begins by moving in with his aging parents and pregnant ex-(and soon-to-be current) wife. When he is offered a job as poster boy for a crusading politician on her own mission for “truth and justice,” his military ethics collide with the unscrupulous world of national political campaigns—and he discovers that his unique skill set may be his best asset after all.

Says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff: “I read Dead Metaphor all in one sitting—the first scene made me laugh out loud, the second scene was a shocker, and by the third scene I was totally hooked. In the spirit of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, George Walker has an incredible knack for mining dark humor out of impossible circumstances, deploying a kind of vivid satire to make us listen to our own clichés and become aware of our own hypocrisy. And I can think of no one better than Irene Lewis, who staged a brilliant production of David Mamet’s Race for us last season, to bring to life this world premiere by a major Canadian writer. A.C.T. audiences are in for an outrageous ride and a vivid glimpse at the underbelly of modern life and contemporary politics.”

Dan Rubin writes in the program about his conversation with the Playwright, George F. Walker:

In 1971, George F. Walker was a 23-year-old taxi driver from Toronto’s working-class East End. While carting fares around the city, he saw a Factory Theatre Lab poster calling for play submissions by Canadian Playwrights—part of founding artistic director Ken Gass’s visionary “Canadian Only” policy, one of the sparks of Toronto’s theater movement in the 1970s

Walker had been scribbling poems and short stories since high school. Friends from the neighborhood had always said he would become a writer Local writing groups were closed to a working-class kid, however. They were reserved for University of Toronto graduates. And Walker had no idea how approach publishers. Theater in Toronto, on the other hand, “was just getting started,” he remembers, “and they’d take anyone.”

So Walker wrote his first play, The Prince of Naples, and submitted it. A week later, he learned that it would receive a production. On the first day of rehearsal, Walker saw director Paul Bettis’ copy of the script. On it, dramaturg John Palme had written a note: “This guy is a genuine subversive. We’ve got to produce him.”

Where the title of Dead Metaphor came from, Walker explains. There used to be a time when we didn’t send soldiers off to fight wars and then forget entirely about them, like they weren’t even part of our society. Less than one percent of both our populations has anything to do with them. So something that used to mean something—soldiers fighting for their country—is now irrelevant. It is a dead thing. We don’t even know where they are. Off they go and then they come back into our world, many of them in trouble, messed up and with nowhere to go. They come back and they only get noticed when they’re in trouble. And we’re in trouble too.

A.C.T.’s 2012–13 season also features the world premiere music theater event Stuck Elevator (April 4–28), the Bay Area premiere of The National Theatre of Scotland’s internationally acclaimed production of Black Watch (May 9–June 9), and a new production of Tom Stoppard’s ravishing masterwork Arcadia (May 16–June 9).

This play review is found at

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