“But also in doing that, we’re trying to look at the cabaret as a metaphor for different things in the play: for our apathy, for our blindness to what’s going on,” he said.
In this stark vision, Sampieri will approach his aim in staging “Cabaret.”
“It should be fun, funny and entertaining, but what draws me to it is, it’s also quite hard-hitting,” he said. “As a director, I’m most interested in theater when it can serve as a lens through which to view the present.”
Sampieri feels there are plenty of parallels between the fragile democracy of the Weimar Republic and America today.
“We’re living in a time of incredible polarization,” he said. “Economic strife brings out the ugliest in people. I think you see very similar things happening.”
To help define the issues of the play, the performance on Thursday, Dec. 6, will be preceded by a panel discussion of “Nazis Then and Now: How Does Hate Grow?”
“It’s part of our audience enrichment series,” Sampieri said. “This one I’m hoping will be a dialogue on historical conditions that gave rise to Nazism, and what it’s like today.”
“I’m a political animal,” he said. “So I think about theater in that framework of social relevance.”
If you go
What: “Cabaret” by John Kander and Fred Ebb
When: Nov. 29 through Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 6 through 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. Directed by Peter Sampieri, with musical direction by Cole Lundquist and choreography by Jodi Leigh Allen. Pre-show event, “Nazis Then and Now: How Does Hate Grow?” Thursday, Dec. 6, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Mainstage Theatre, Salem State University, 352 Lafayette St.
More information: Tickets are $20 general/$15 students and seniors. Purchase tickets online at www.salemstatetickets.com, by phone at 978-542-6365 or at the door beginning one hour prior to curtain. Recommended for mature audiences.