In a swirl of non-stop non-linear action, this new take on Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck sets a fresh translation in today’s Lower East Side, NYC. Taking its cue from the cuts, razors, and knives in the text and the lack of a distinct scene order for this unfinished play, the audience determines the sequence of the scenes, cutting from one to the other when prompted by the performers. Audience members are invited to shout out the name of the scene they want to see next (“Sparkly!” or “What a man!”) and put together the fragments as sometime lovers Woyzeck and Maria become overwhelmed by powers of poverty, indifference, violence, and love.
This production’s minimalistic staging—using only a few chairs and a projector for the list of scenes—throws the focus entirely on the actors, relying on physical storytelling and whirling dialogue that is at times hilarious, at times absurd. The roles are updated to today’s context: Maria is a bartender and aspiring dancer, Woyzeck barely makes ends meet by working a number of small jobs, and the seductive man that catches Maria’s attention is a member of a band called The Astronomical Horse that hangs out in the bar where she works. The ensemble presents an urban community, sometimes anonymously walking past each other on the street and sometimes thrown into intimate and passionate encounters with one another.
Why cut Woyzeck up into pieces? Editors of Büchner’s drama have claimed that the scenes can only be performed in the linear chronological narrative imposed by scholars of the last 150 years. This production challenges that assertion by believing that contemporary audiences can intelligently discern and greatly enjoy non-linear storytelling. Far from attempting full control of the audience’s experience, we embrace and make explicit the unique quality of theater, in which each performance is both the same and unavoidably different.
Developed at the Bowery Poetry Club (2014) and Dixon Place (March 2015). Presented in August 2015 at as part of the New York International Fringe Festival, a production of the Present Company.
(in no particular order, like the scenes in the show!)
Aimee Thrasher, Samantha Turret, Bráulio Cruz, Nicole Kontolefa, Kristen Busalacchi, Stephen Chacon, Alexandra Marks, Conrado Falco, Connor Finnnegan, Shelley Valfer, Victor Barranca
CREATIVE & CREW
Directed, translated, and adapted by Leanora Lange
Based on the drama by Georg Büchner
Stage manager Courtney Savoia (FringeNYC), Audra Curtis (Dixon Place)
Light board Chloé Paillard