IRC_Arsonists_attic 2 _web

The Arsonists

by Alistair Beaton (A New Translation of Max Frisch's The Firebugs)

The Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5
August 31 - September 18, 2011
Directed by Tina Brock
The Arsonists - Postcard - Front
Gottlieb Biedermann
Liam Castellan
Chorus Leader
John D’Alonzo
Monah Yancy
Jaime Pannone
Bob Schmidt
Michael Dura
Tomas Dura
Kristen Egermeier
Josef Schmitz
Ethan Lipkin
Babette Biedermann
Kirsten Quinn
William Eisenring
Mark Knight
Jesse Delaney
Doctor of Philosophy
Lee Pucklis
Mrs. Knechtling
Tina Brock


Tina Brock

Costume Design

Brian Strachan

Lighting Design

Josh Schulman

Scenic Design

Meghan Jones

Sound Design

Aaron Oster

Technical Director

Rajiv Shah

Set Construction

Andy Campbell

Scenic Painter

Colleen Sawyer

Stage Manager

Gregory Day

Sound Operator

Jesse Delaney

Lights Board Operator

Liam Brock

Vocal Coach

Michael Dura

Prop Construction/Assistant Stage Manager

Jahna Ferron-Smith

House Manager/Police Officer

Ari Benjamin Bank

Box Office Manager

Eileen O’Brien


Johanna Austin /

This production is made possible in part by generous grants from

The Samuel S. Fels Fund and

The Philadelphia Cultural Fund

The Charlotte Cushman Foundation


The IRC participates in the

Barrymore Awards Honoring Excellence in Theater


Playing time is approximately 70 minutes;

there will be no intermission.


Max Frisch's The Arsonists (2011)

"...all acting was spot-on and sardonic. The staging on the small stage was exceptional. The timing was superb."
A. D. Amorosi, Philadelphia City Paper

"...questions personal cowardice and hiding behind the façade of bourgeois etiquette in the face of obvious danger, and ponders why people prefer to live in a state of denial than to act for the common good and their own survival."
Debra Miller, Stage Magazine

"The Arsonists is also a complex play. It’s partly an apologue, a kind of allegorical story, suggesting that those who pretend to moral virtues they don’t possess are doomed to pay dearly for their hypocrisy."
Marshall A. Ledger, Broad Street Review

Director's Notes

September 2011

The Arsonists still burns brightly


The IRC bursts into our 6th season with this regional premiere of Alistair Beaton’s elegant translation of Max Frisch’s 1958 absurdist romp, The Firebugs.

The theme of Max Frisch's classic play -- that private and public morality cannot be separated -- rings even truer today.  What is our responsibility to self, to family, to our neighbors and beyond? Why do we choose to ignore glaring red flags in front of our faces, and what is the damage we suffer for that choice?

Alistair Beaton offers these notes on his translation:

The Arsonists is my title for a play previously known as The Fire Raisers, first staged in Britain at the Royal Court in 1961. When Dominic Cooke and Ramin Gray asked me to come up with a new translation as part of the Court's international season, I went back to the original German text to see how much the play still had to say to a modern audience. In other words, I wondered whether I ought to be doing a straightforward translation or a new version. I was pleased to find that Max Frisch's famous play required little in the way of updating.

We immediately have to ask: what is the great evil we are failing to face up to today? Is it still nuclear weapons? Is it the destruction of our environment through personal greed and corporate plunder? Is it the misery we inflict upon the Third World? Is it the erosion of our liberties in the name of the War on Terror?  With a Greek chorus composed of firefighters, the power of The Arsonists lies in the undefined nature of the evil it portrays.Where the play is precise is in identifying what happens when there is a private-public split in a person's moral code. We can't be decent people at home while ignoring the evils of the world. It just doesn't work.

More than a century earlier than Frisch, and halfway around the globe, Nikolai Gogol was writing about the absurdity of the human condition in his native Russia.

I hope you’ll join us in February 2012 once again at the Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5 for Nikolai Gogol’s Marriage.  Gogol’s writing goes beyond tragedy or comedy into a realm that might be called “cosmic farce.”

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to experience Geoffrey Rush playing the lowly civil servant Poprischin in Gogol’s Diary of a Madman at Brooklyn Academy of Music.  The language was extraordinary.  As was Rush.  And while we weren’t able to secure him for the lead role of Podkolyoshin in IRC’s production of Marriage, his playful spirit and interpretation left such an impression that we felt compelled to stage one of Gogol’s works.

Please tell a friend about the IRC and stay connected with our goings on at  It’s your support that helps to keep these works alive for generations to come… they might not be staged otherwise.

See you at the theater.

Tina Brock

Producing Artistic Director