The season begins with Peter Weiss’s timely political and personal work, The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (Marat/Sade). The production will be staged on successive weekends — Oct. 27-29 and Nov. 3-5 — in Shoolroy Theatre, 329 E. University St.
James Levin, visiting associate professor of theatre and dance at Wooster, directed the play in 1990 at the Cleveland Public Theatre, and wanted to bring it to a college setting where he would have the freedom to add a contemporary touch. “For students of theatre history, Marat/Sade is an iconic work of political ‘environmental’ theatre of another era,” said Levin. “We will tune it to the 21st century.”
The play’s primary character is Coulmier, the head of an insane asylum who wants to show Parisians how progressive and enlightened he is by treating the patients with elements of music, theatre, and art. He persuades a patient, Marquis de Sade, to write and direct a play where the inmates are the actors. The play takes place during the French Revolution and addresses the conflict between freedom and rules.
“In a very visceral way, (Marat/Sade) addresses many of the issues of our time,” said Levin, tying his 21st century spin of the production to the current revolutions occurring around the world. The play will take place in a present time and location — a home for disturbed youth rather than an asylum — while maintaining the text.
The metaphysical play also debunks the concept of the fourth wall, or the idea of a clear separation between stage and audience. Already a play within a play, Levin plans for the audience to be involved in the action.
Levin hopes that people take away two things from the production: the first having to do with form and the second having to do with content.
“They can redefine, in a way, the performance experience…it will be a much more visceral participatory kind of experience,” he said. “As far as content, Peter Weiss includes in this more of those aspects of the 21st century…(asking) is the freedom of the 21st century real?”
Also on the schedule is the annual fall dance concert, which highlights student choreographers, dancers, and lighting designers, Nov. 17-19, in the informal setting of Freedlander-in-the-round. Directed by Kim Tritt, professor of theatre and dance and chair of the department at Wooster, these works give students a chance to showcase their talent in front of an audience. In the spring, the dance company will present a somewhat more formal production, which will also be directed by Kim Tritt and held April 19-21 in Freedlander Theatre.
“(The dance concerts) promise to be both diverse and exciting, featuring works of student, faculty, and guest artists,” said Tritt.
“Expect each piece to be a unique synergy of movement, space, music, and color.”
In addition, the department will present The Festival of New Plays, which will cover two weekends during the second semester (Feb. 23-25 and March 1-3) with student- and faculty-written, directed, and designed productions. “The festival provides an opportunity for theatre artists to bring their original works to life beyond the classroom, and allows audiences access to the creative work going on regularly but often hidden from a broader view,” said Shirley Huston-Findley, associate professor of theatre and dance.
The festival will feature Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor) by Ernesto Anaya and translated by famed Latina playwright Migdalia Cruz that brings to life the characters from Diego Velázquez’s 1656 painting, which won the Mexican National Drama Oscar Liera Award in 2006. Jimmy Noriega, assistant professor of theatre and dance at Wooster, will direct this American premiere as the cornerstone of the festival in Shoolroy Theatre. “The painter, his subjects, and the Royal Spanish Court mingle and collide as questions of power, relationships, artistry, expression, gender, and identity play out in a comical and surprising series of events,” said Noriega, “ultimately leading to the creation of the Spanish masterpiece.”
For additional information or to inquire about tickets, call 330-263-2345.
Published: August 17, 2011