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Showing posts from June, 2015

Ubu in Chains

Ubu in Chains
presented by Medicine Show
directed and translated by Barbara Vann
with Oliver Conant and Lynda Rodolitz

In 1888 a French schoolboy, Alfred Jarry, wrote a puppet play to lampoon his physics teacher and created the character Pere Ubu. He would later rework the script into the play Ubu Roi. It’s one of the seminal plays of modern drama. Jarry wrote three more plays around the character Pere Ubu. The plays broke the conventions of drama and prepared the way for the absurdists to come decades later. The third play was Ubu in Chains. Like Ubu Roi, it’s a preposterous, iconoclastic, very funny play.

Pere Ubu is an astonishing, stupid character, the id without the super-ego. His partner, Mere Ubu, is the same. In Ubu in Chains Pere Ubu decides to become a slave – along with Mere Ubu, of course. “I shall serve mercilessly” he says. And “Long live slavery!” Logic and natural impulse are inverted in the Ubu world. Soldiers drill for indiscipline and disobedience. When charged with a…

Saint Joan of the Stockyards

Saint Joan of the Stockyards
by Bertolt Brecht
presented by The Irondale Ensemble Project
directed by Peter Kleinert
translated by Paul Schmidt
We rarely get to see Brechtian theater, less often to see it done well. So much more terrific to find The Irondale Ensemble Project’s (off-off-Broadway, Brooklyn) excellent production of Brecht’s Saint Joan of the Stockyards
Director Peter Kleinert includes so many verfremdungseffekt techniques in this production that it reads like a catalogue from Brecht himself. There’s a whiteboard at the back of the stage area, and actors write on it as the play proceeds. Props and costumes are visible when not being used. The audience is often in the light.
Actors offer us bowls of soup, and at another point, business cards. Sometimes they talk directly to us, and they play a few scenes facing us. They squabble over a line. They stand on tables and they use half-masks. They talk to the techie and introduce the musician during the performance. The fist-fight …