Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 pm
Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm
Saturday, Nov. 21 at 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm
Sunday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 pm and 10:00 pm
Monday, Nov. 23 at 7:30 pm
721 Broadway (between Waverly and Washington Place), 2nd Floor
After opening in 1896 amidst an uproar Ubu Roi, quickly became one of the most influential avant-garde creations of the new century. Generations of writers, painters, musicians, and, above all, theater artists were inspired by the way Jarry pushed parody and inconsequentiality to the point where the work seemed to exist in its own self-created, lunatic world.
It is precisely from this singular lunatic world that we draw the inspiration for this production. Jarry gave puppet performances from his early teens and was an expert on the puppet theater with its centuries old tradition of satirical outspokenness and grotesquerie. This tradition existed from medieval times, when performances by live actors were first banned by the Christian authorities, and it was only through puppets that poets and comedians could express themselves. Jarry always preferred puppet performances of the Ubu plays to live ones and when live productions were mounted, he used every technique of puppet staging to make his actors look like marionettes.
Ubu demands a naïve, presentational style where any realistic or naturalistic elements shall very quickly be ridiculed and violently disposed of by the players. It is a kind of theatrical self-consciousness that allows the puppets to live, manipulated in the Bunraku style without any attempt to hide their nature or insist that they are anything but puppets. There is actually almost a celebration of the artificiality. The puppets are an uneasy representation of life in a heightened theatrical world in which the laws of nature surrender to Jarry’s imagination. We may either fear them for their bloodthirsty behavior or pity them as they are torn apart by the debraining machine. The world of Ubu is a very specific one, with its grotesque language, awkward sexuality, childish violence and its epic scale. A scale that can change from moment to moment from the miniature pettiness of Punch and Judy to operatic tragedy.
This world sets the theatrical imagination free since any realistic representation would be impossible (financially and mechanically) and would ultimately diminish the event of its production. It is a rambunctious world, an unfiltered world with its sudden flights into violence, poetry, tenderness, and comic terror. It is complete. It is a theatrical snow glove that innocently demands to be shaken so that it can terrorize you with tickling. Jarry’s Ubu “has been compared to Shakespeare and Rabelais, or dismissed as insipid nonsense.” I think that it is both…with all the beauty of gleeful pandemonium.