Desperately seeking something to do this weekend sans Halloween-themed debauchery? Suffering October-withdrawal and looking to fill your monthly costume quota?
Urine You’re in luck! Musical Forum’s Urinetown is happening all weekend in the PW downspace.
You may know Urinetown from its 3 Tony Awards, or as the sole “U” answer in all ‘Broadway Musical by Alphabet’ Sporcle quizzes… just me? You may know musical theatre from its series of campy cliches and tropes, many of which are satirized and subverted in Greg Kotis’s biting script. Urinetown takes place in a semi-dystopian society in which water has become a scare-enough resource to warrant the privatization of bathrooms and stringent enforcement of the commodification of the right to pee (less outlandish in light of the California drought).
Consequently, the ‘privilege to pee’ exists as a right reserved for the wealthy elite and serves as a comedically-heightened escalation of modern-day class inequality (or perhaps not hyperbolic at all given the very real existence of disorderly conduct laws including public urination penalties designed to target and criminalize the base needs of survival of those without access to private homes …too Urban Studies for this post?)
Regardless, Urinetown explores issues no less topical than class warfare, submission to authority, and the potential naiveté of revolution. The set itself, designed by Josh Cape ’17, uses levels to comment on the dominant and un-checked status of big business as it controls those below. Under the direction of Ada Dolan-Zalaznick ’17, Urinetown offers something for everyone. Fans of traditional musical theatre will enjoy musical numbers, directed by Erin Reifler ’17, featuring a vocally-strong ensemble, and backed by the show’s true unsung heroes (literally), the musicians. Fans of less traditional narratives and darker humor, will enjoy a cynically-appealing second act.
“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.
You can get your dose of existentialist anxiety, synchronized swimming, and devised theater in one fell swoop this weekend with “Sink,” an original play by Ursula Raasted ’14. Integrating text, movement, and music, PW’s latest offering builds a lyrical and unsettling dream world in 9 non-sequential vignettes. The work centers on the “capsizing relationship between a sailor and a siren,” Raasted said, but don’t come to the Downspace expecting a rehashing of Homer’s Odyssey. In “Sink,” 9 anonymous performers, categorized into triplets of “sailors,” “sirens,” and “soothsayers,” fall hopelessly in and out of sync with one another, struggling to give meaning to their existence and to distinguish between their individual and collective identities.
The major conceptual project of the work was “trying to figure out how you can use text and movement … to support each other instead of having … a hierarchical relationship between the two,” Raasted said. Indeed, the actors tell much of the story with an arsenal of precisely coordinated gestures that range from military marches to dry-land synchronized swimming routines. The rhythmic maneuvers were devised in rehearsal and are delivered unblinkingly by a remarkably cohesive group of actors – gold stars to movement consultant Sarah Friedland ’14. Original songs composed by (who else?) Raasted herself and lighting design by Austin Draycott ’15 are also integral to the storytelling. “Sink” will confuse, surprise, upset, and delight you. It is a bizarre, ecstatic work of theater from the mind of an exciting young playwright.
“Sink” runs in the PW Downspace tonight at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., Sunday at 5 p.m., and Monday at 8 p.m. Free tickets will be made available one hour before show time.
Photo by Regine Rosas.