Private Jokes, Public Places

Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts to present Off Broadway architectural satire Sept. 12

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual arts will present a staged reading of Oren Safdie’s Private Jokes, Public Places — a biting academic satire set amidst an architectural design review — at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12, in the foyer of Givens Hall.

Private Jokes, Public Places
Jea Hyun Rhyu as Margaret in Oren Safdie’s architectural satire “Private Jokes, Public Places,” at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts Sept. 12.

The performance is free and open to the public and is presented in conjunction with the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences. A Q&A with the cast, architectural students and faculty will immediately follow.

Givens Hall, which houses the Sam Fox School’s College of Architecture and Graduate School of Architecture, is located near the intersection of Forsyth Boulevard and Hoyt Drive. For more information, call (314) 935-6200.

Private Jokes focuses on Margaret, a young Korean-American architecture student who must present her final degree project — a design for a public swimming pool — to a trio of opinionated, and frequently contentious, male professors. Erhardt, a famous German Postmodernist, spars with Colin, a tweedy British theorist and structural engineer, in bombastic, incomprehensible jargon. William, Margaret’s young American studio advisor, plays both referee and therapist while pursuing his own, if more personal, agenda.

Private Jokes raises issues of immediate relevance to our students and faculty,” said Peter MacKeith, associate dean of Architecture and associate director of the Sam Fox School, who proposed the production to the PAD last spring.

“What is the dynamic of a design review? What is the dynamic between men and women in the arts, between younger architects and older architects? These are not easy or uncontroversial questions, but there are essential discussions for the school to undertake.”


WHO: Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and the Performing Arts Department in Arts & Sciences

WHAT: Performance, Private Jokes, Public Places

WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 12

WHERE: Givens Hall, intersection Skinker Boulevard and Hoyt Drive

COST: Free and open to the public

INFORMATION: (314) 935-6200

MacKeith added that setting Private Jokes in the Givens foyer — site of actual architectural critiques — will duplicate the atmosphere of a real review. At the same time, he notes that the PAD cast and production staff “have brought a high level of enthusiasm to the play as well as important insights into how it can be used to examine our own studio culture.”

Justin Rincker, a graduate student in drama, directs the cast of five, which features Jea Hyun Rhyu (LA 2004) as Margaret; graduate student Dan Rubin as William; alumnus Gerry McAdams (MFA 2004) as Colin; and William Whitaker, senior lecturer in the PAD, as Erhardt. Ann Marie Mohr, a graduate student in drama, will provide narration.

Safdie, a former architecture student at Columbia University, is the son of famed Israeli-born architect Moshe Safdie. Other credits include the film You Can Thank Me Later (1998) as well as the plays Jews & Jesus; Fiddler Sub-Terrain; Hyper-Allergenic; Broken Places; and Laughing Dogs & L.A. Compagnie. Private Jokes debuted in 2001 at the Malibu Stage Co. then moved Off Broadway in 2003, playing at La Mama E.T.C. and the Center for Architecture of the American Institute of Architects.