Curse of the Starving Class


Sean Lee

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

University of North Dakota


It’s no Cinderella story. Curse of the Starving Class takes a candid look into the American landscape and portrays real fears of a nation emerging from World War II. The show focuses on the true essence of the American dream, and how one family, diseased with problems of its own, tries to cope.

“It’s about the real American dream, how everyone has a start,” said UND graduate student David Barta. “[Curse] shows what people can actually be like this in the real world. It’s equal part a commentary and a show on life.” Barta plays a leading role of the father, Weston, who enters in the first act a drunken fool.

The entire play takes place in the southwestern part of the United States. In a telling moment, Ella, the mother, opens the door to the refrigerator repeatedly, in disbelief that there is no food, but remains in denial that they are “poor.”

The family is later led by Weston’s son, Westley, and has to remain strong.

“[Westley] is a difficult character to get into,” said junior Andrew Markiewicz. The show covers many tough subjects that you hardly ever hear of, Markiewicz said.

For much of the cast, Curse of the Starving Class is among the darkest productions they’ve been in. “I started doing plays in high school,” UND freshmen Kathryn Volke said. “I was in things like You’re a good man, Charlie Brown ... I’ve never sworn on stage before,” she joked.

Volke plays Emma, who is perhaps the strongest of the family, though not outwardly so.

As a brand new teenager (she’s either 12 or 13 years old,) Emma often explodes at her family when things go wrong. “She’s mean, but still she’s very strong,” said Volke. “She know what she wants in life.”

Taylor, a lawyer, exploits the family for what little they have. “He’s a sleazy guy,” said UND sophomore Howie Korsmo. “He wants stuff and he’s a very confident fella.”

Korsmo, a Norwegian native, loves being his character. “I’ve learned so much from being part of this production.”

A live lamb, just a few weeks old, will also be part of the cast tonight. The lamb, symbolic of the family’s struggles, has been under the care of cast members for the last week.

Curse of the Starving Class was written by Sam Shepard in 1978, and premieres on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. in the Burtness Theatre. Tickets for the show, which will run daily until Saturday, April 16, are $12 for adults and $6 for students. Call 777-2587 to reserve a seat.

The production contains adult situations and is intended for mature audiences.