Ohio Wesleyan Hosts Comedic Play ‘The Duck Variations’

Free Nov. 3 Event Brings A Portable Theatre, Veteran Actors, Fred Andrle to Campus
Veteran actors Jonathan Putnam and Geoffrey Nelson portray George and Emil in A Portable Theatre’s production of ‘The Duck Variations.’ The play will be performed Nov. 3 at Ohio Wesleyan University. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. (Photo by Will Shively)

Veteran actors Jonathan Putnam and Geoffrey Nelson portray George and Emil in A Portable Theatre’s production of ‘The Duck Variations.’ The play will be performed Nov. 3 at Ohio Wesleyan University. Tickets are free, but reservations are required. (Photo by Will Shively)

DELAWARE, Ohio – “Imagine George Burns vs. Jack Benny, and you’ll get the idea.” That’s how central Ohio-based A Portable Theatre describes its production of David Mamet’s “The Duck Variations.”

A Portable Theatre (APT) will perform the one-act play at 2 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Studio Theatre of Ohio Wesleyan University’s Chappelear Drama Center, 45 Rowland Ave., Delaware. Admission is free, but reservations are required by calling the OWU Department of Theatre & Dance at (740) 368-3855 from 9 a.m. to noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The performance is sponsored by The Ohio State University Humanities Institute in partnership with Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Theatre & Dance. The play will be followed by a fun, freewheeling discussion with APT actors Jonathan Putnam and Geoffrey Nelson as part of “A Conversation in the Humanities.” Fred Andrle, former host of WOSU radio’s “Open Line” talk show, will moderate the discussion.

“The Duck Variations” is performed without intermission and lasts approximately 55 minutes. The play contains no profanity, but its humor may not appeal to younger children. The play follows the comedic chance encounter and ruminations of two elderly men, George (Putnam) and Emil (Nelson), who meet in a park.

“George and Emil are stubborn, highly opinionated, and hilariously misinformed,” the actors state. “Who is the wiser of the two? In 14 short scenes – or ‘variations’ – they verbally spar like prizefighters to find out.” That sparring includes arguments about “pollution, money, the government, outer space, the law, mother nature, the value of friendship, mortality, and the majestic life of the duck.”

Of A Portable Theatre’s performance, Columbus Alive writer Jay Weitz says: “Comedic masters that they have proven themselves to be, Nelson and Putnam milk every line, every gesture, every interruption, every pause for its maximum effect.”

The actors, previously part of CATCO (formerly the Contemporary American Theatre Company), have worked together for more than 30 years and now share their talents with the nonprofit, Upper Arlington-based A Portable Theatre. The goal of the new theatre company is to “create professional theatre for the enrichment of communities throughout Ohio.”

“By performing our plays in local venues, APT makes it easier for people to attend professional theatre, including those who may not yet have discovered the pleasures of live performance,” the organization states. Learn more at www.aportabletheatre.com.

Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Theatre & Dance offers professional training, within the context of the liberal arts, in the traditional areas of theatre history/literature/aesthetics, acting, directing, playwriting, design, technology, stage management, arts management, theatre education, and dance. Learn more at theatre.owu.edu.


Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities. Ohio Wesleyan offers more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. OWU combines an internationally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that connect classroom theory with real-world practice. Located in Delaware, Ohio, OWU’s 1,850 students represent 41 states and 45 countries. The university is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the 2013 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at www.owu.edu.

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