If you’re not sure what’s going on in Charles Mee‘s Bobrauschenbergamerica, you’re probably not alone. The play, whose title references Neo-Dadaist American painter and sculptor Robert Rauschenber, is directed by Thom Finley ’14 and opens tonight in the PW Downspace. It is whimsical, wacky, and at times, bordering on nonsensical. Which is precisely the point.
The show’s eccentric nature is clear before actors even take the stage. The set, designed by Sam Keamy-Minor ’16, resembles an explosion of an all-American house. Symbols of domestic, small-town American life are strung from the ceiling, creating a web of dust pans, dollhouses, badminton racquets, toy cars, and rolling pins. Slides projected onto hanging white boards give the space a museum-like feel.
Bobrauschenbergamerica is held up by a committed and ceaselessly energetic ensemble cast. Much of the time the members of the show appear onstage all at once, feeling less like a group of individuals and more like a well-oiled machine. The nontraditional narrative structure, which consists of a series of loosely connected vignettes, synchronized dance numbers, audio clips, monologues and wordless sequences, is deliberately vague, demanding audience members’ active intellectual engagement. The dance numbers are just riotously funny, although there is something frightening in the moments of synchronization, something abnormally homogenous.
“I don’t really have a worldview. Well, actually, my worldview is that the world is a pile of shit.”
That’s definitely the idea you get as you walk into the Upspace for The Pillowman, which opens tonight at 8 p.m. and runs through Monday. With a dark, minimalist set and eerie dolls hanging on the wall, averting their gaze from the audience, this dystopian world director Andrew Ganem ’16 has created is unsettling before the actors even take the stage.
Yet, it is the cast, as they vacillate abruptly between riotous dark comedy and engrossing drama, that truly brings the text of Martin McDonagh’s terrifyingly brilliant three-act play from 2003 about a writer, Katurian Katurian (Alex Ostroff ’14), accused of carrying out the murders of three children exactly like they take place in his short stories, to life.
First, there’s Tupolski and Ariel, played by Sam Rubinek ’17 and Keston McMillan ’17, the abusive and deliciously sadistic policemen. As they nonsensically question Katurian about murders he did not commit, McDonagh’s biting satire is in its purest form, thanks to Rubinek and McMillan’s mastery of the comic tone and timing. Rubinek, with a drawl reminiscent of a 1950s Chicago mobster, is the good cop (although in this hopeless totalitarian dictatorship, there is no such thing) . McMillan is certainly the bad cop, his speech menacingly quiet and his body language hinting at the imminent doom each of these characters is hurtling towards. The first act belongs to this freshman duo.
Wednesday, February 19:
Event: Writers or Missionaries? Reporting the Middle East
Time: 2:00 p.m.
Location: Joukowsky Forum, Watson Institute
Join the GISP “Wiring the Middle East: Nonfiction Coverage and New Digital Frontiers” and Brown Middle East Studies for a conversation with Adam Shatz, Contributing Editor of London Review of Books. This event is free and open to the public.
Thursday, February 20:
Event: The Days Between
Time: 8:00 p.m.
Location: Granoff Center
Check out this new opera by Ben Kutner ’14, directed by Zach Rufa ’14. Can’t make it on Thursday? Don’t worry: there will be 3 other performances on Friday the 21st at 8p.m., and Saturday the 22nd at both 2p.m. and 8p.m. According to the event description, this original production, based loosely on the Arab Spring, “follows four national figures as they weather the power vacuum after their leader’s death – each attempting to ride out on top.”
“Nothing to be done.” So begins Samuel Beckett’s theater of the absurd, where the characters dither and fumble in a blind vacuum as they hope in vain for their existences to be validated.
A new production of the canonical “Waiting for Godot,” directed by Patrick Madden ’15, opens tonight in the Production Workshop Downspace. For such a widely performed work (it’s currently running on Broadway with Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart), Madden’s take hits close to home. Swinging from idealistic to cynical, arrogant to self-loathing, Vladimir, Estragon, and friends embody the near-constant identity crisis college students know all too well.
The entire play takes place near a crooked, skeletal tree on the country roadside. The stage is an elongated platform covered with sand, which adds an interesting element of realism. It swirls up in dust clouds when the characters get rambunctious, and trickles out from sleeves and pockets as though it’s slipping through an hourglass. A pile of cinderblocks replaces the “low mound” in Beckett’s script, hinting not at nature but at urban decay.
In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play, which opens tonight at 8:00 p.m. and runs through Monday, October 21st, is on the surface a rollicking comedy—a story of sex and deceit with a good dose of physical and slapstick humor and witty retorts. However, around fifteen minutes in, you begin to realize In the Next Room is not merely a wildly entertaining, 21st-century Oscar Wilde-esque play, but a modern feminist manifesto.
Directed masterfully by Karin Nilo ’14 and written by Sarah Ruhl ’97 MFA ’01, In the Next Room is set in Victorian-era New York and follows Mrs. Givings, a woman whose husband treats female (and later male) patients for hysteria using the vibrator, and Mrs. Daldry, one of Dr. Givings patients, as they discover their sexuality and slowly take control of their bodies. Continue Reading
Nudity in the Upspace—a week-long event that “discusses and explores nudity in all forms” by way of nude body painting, nude yoga, and nude performance—is back for its second year. The event is currently taking place at Production Workshop’s Upspace, and has triggered international press coverage from The Huffington Post, Jezebel, CBS, and Daily Mail UK. Online comments on these articles range from encouraging messages to the students involved with the event to vitriolic attacks on Brown students and the institution itself.
On the heels of this influx of attention, BlogDH sat down with Becca Wolinsky ‘14, Camila Pacheco-Fores ‘14 and Gabrielle Sclafani ’14, the three main organizers of the event, to discuss their take on body image, nude performance, and press coverage. Check out the interview after the jump.