Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, December 10, 2018

Marat/Sade enters into the world of insanity

From creating music and beating on pans to screaming, crying and tearing the place apart, “Marat/Sade” will leave audience members speechless.

A bloody and relentless representation of insanity, suffering and struggle through the eyes of those who have been rejected by society, the Department of Performing Art’s production of Peter Weiss’s “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade,” commonly known as “Marat/Sade,” is not to be taken lightly.

The play takes place in 1808 in the Charenton Asylum where Marquis de Sade is directing a play based on the French Revolution.

“The play is about the excesses of the French Revolution and more importantly the inherent hypocrisy of a revolution fought by the poor only to enslave them by a different regime,” Artistic Director at the Rorschach Theatre and director of the AU production Randy Baker said. “The play seems to ask if revolution comes from changing society or changing oneself.”

The meta-narrative that is performed focuses on the final events leading up to the death of Jean Paul Marat, who was murdered while ill in his bathtub by a woman named Charlotte Corday.

The patients of the asylum act out the play as a therapy exercise.

“The performance should feel like a bunch of mad homeless people got together and started a circus, building it with the objects they could find in a garbage heap,” Baker said. “The audience will sit among the action as it takes place above, behind and very close to them. It will be uncomfortable and will force new perspectives both theatrically and personally.”

There is no intermission as the production is intended to make the audience feel like they too are trapped in the asylum.

The dark, sophisticated and gut-wrenching drama that transpires handles a difficult subject. Yet the cast, which includes AU students of every class year, rightfully took the challenge head on.

“Randy is extremely professional and helped us discover more about our characters by encouraging us to create character analysis,” said Kendra McNulty, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, who plays Simonne Evrard. “Marat/Sade contains some explicit material, primarily violence and sexual content. I have never been in show that had such a physical and emotional toll on me.”

Kat O’Connor, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences, playing one of the patients, said this show has taught her just how important an ensemble is.

“Even though there are roles who speak more, and do more than others, I still do so much, and I don’t feel any less important to other characters,” O’Connor said. “Everyone works so hard, and just connects so well.”

Paul Lysek, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, who plays Sade, agreed.

“I sort of realized that I would have to go to some really dark places that I’ve never been before, and as an actor, that’s both really exciting and really frightening,” he said. “In fact his name is where the term ‘sadistic’ comes from, so that might clue you in to what he has going on for himself.”

Audience members beware. The grit of this stirring production will be uncomfortable and thought provoking, so bring an open mind and enjoy a genuinely professional performance.

“Marat / Sade” plays from Nov. 14-16 in the Katzen Studio Theatre. All performances will begin at 8 p.m. For ticketing information see AU’s website or AU’s ticketing site for more.

thescene@theeagleonline.com


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