MILLER AND THE JABBERWOCK is the story of one day in the career of Professor Frederick Miller, a controversial professor of political science at a large Midwestern university. One of his undergraduates (named Rivkah Brownstein) has publicly charged him with anti-Semitism. Seems Miller posed as Hitler in order to teach the effects of Nietzsche’s concept of ‘superman.’ Brownstein, a descendant of Holocaust survivors, found it offensive. When she asked Miller to apologize, he refused. She wrote to the papers. The issue escalated. His Dean took the class away from Miller, who is now taking action to get it back.
At 3:00 today, a public hearing will be held to determine whether or not Miller gets his class back. However, the whole issue is complicated by a whole lot of personal noise between the two adversaries. Miller claims the issue is academic freedom, but he’s also an elderly widower who feels this might be his last big noise before he goes silent forever. Brownstein is standing up for political correctness, but underneath she feels the weight of her destroyed ancestors screaming for revenge. The Dean claims expediency, but he’s also seeing this public case as a stepping stone to his own advancement. Others in the university are also involved, for a variety of questionable motives. The national press is involved. Right- and Left-wing political groups are using the issue for their own agenda. As Brownstein says, “It got so out of control.”
The action of the play follows Miller through this day. We begin in his nightmare,being chased by Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwock. We follow Miller as he encounters, among others, an angry parent of another student, an nhospitable dean; the chair of his department who wants him to cave in; his best friend who urges him to be reasonable; a group of disparate students — some on his side, some not — and, ultimately, the hearing itself. After that, we see him at home, in a scene with Brownstein, in which the tension, noise, controversy, and baggage of the whole experience comes to some resolution.
Cast: 4 or 5 M, 4 or 5 with doubling
Set: Fluid, open staging.