By Janeen M. Edwards
Members of the Rider University community are in for a thoughtful and comedic treat when experiencing Rider’s School of Fine and Performing Arts’ rendition of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, previewing at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 in the Bart Luedeke Center Theater.
Posters throughout campus describe the French symbolist writer’s show as an absurdist play, “a wild and wildly comedic depiction of a bombastic tyrant and his insatiable ways.”
According to director Carter Gill, Ubu Roi is a play “written in the age of beauty and a time when everything on stage had to be pristine — perfect and beautiful.”
With “a blank check to do whatever we want,” as Gill described it, this company of actors and director adapted it themselves to construct a show “about an insatiable greed that is inherent in every single person.” In other words, it is a play that breaks all the rules.
Gill proudly described this play as “chaotic, a big fat mess and a bucket of ruckus.”
“Hopefully we’re breaking a lot of new ground, too,” he said. This task is one that could only be made possible by the cast.”
The actors are the reason why Gill decided to direct another Rider production after directing A Doctor in Spite of Himself last year.
“They’re really talented students,” said Gill. “[The cast members are] little bundles of talent. They all sing and dance and act, it’s great. They’re why I’m here.”
Yet, putting Ubu Roi together has been a two-way street.
“[Gill] is especially open to everybody’s ideas,” said sophomore theater performance major Mary Foster, playing a lead role of Ma Ubu. “We adapted it to our own — mostly by Carter Gill, but also by everyone.”
This collaboration between the cast and Gill has earned Gill the reputation of being “an actor’s director,” according to senior theater performance major Sloan Brettholtz, playing the role of Pa Ubu.
For senior theater performance major Mark De La Rosa, who portrays the character Bordure, Ubu Roi is unlike any production he has been in.
“This show is willing to push bounds that most shows would not go near,” he said. “The action never stops and each moment is specifically crafted.
“The only way to describe anything like Ubu Roi is if you put Family Guy, Looney Toons and French Absurdist Theater in a bowl and blend them all together,” De La Rosa said.
With all these things in play, Gill wishes to present audiences with a performance they won’t forget. He hopes they will walk away feeling “like they just went to an amusement park.”
Gill is particularly excited for the audience to see how music and acting come together in this production.
“There’s a long battle scene I’m really excited to see on stage,” he explained. “One is a totally awesome rap, where they beat each other in rhythm.”
In a play where comedy meets blood amid a slew of contemporary music and literary references, Gill said, “It’s difficult to toe that line between hilarity and tragedy, but they’re really intertwined.” According to Gill, it’s up to audiences to determine just where they have placed the bar.
“[This play is] about all parts of ourselves, showing the raw and honest parts of the human essence,” Gill said.
Ubu Roi opens on Thurs. Oct. 29 and will run through Sunday Nov. 1. For tickets and more information visit rider.edu/arts.