By Molly Grosskreutz
From the title, “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,” MARAT/SADE by Peter Weiss is not your typical theatrical production. It’s challenging, abstract and wholly unconventional. And if that piques your interest, you should come check out the show this weekend.
Emily Matthees, a senior arts administration major from Rochester, Minn., explains the premise as “a show within a show.” “You’re not going to see your typical boy-meets-girl…it’s telling a story in a different way,” Matthees told Lumen.
The show involves inmates at an insane asylum who put on a performance as part of their therapy, Matthees explained. Aside from that, the show is setting-less. It implies ideas rather than stating them directly.
The show is unconventional in numerous ways. It breaks the fourth wall, meaning that the characters sometimes address the audience directly. It also employs projections and soundscapes to contribute to the overall unsettling atmosphere.
For Matthees, who has been involved with the show as the production manager and assistant technical director since day one, the best part is seeing all of those diverse elements come together with the actors and costumes. “I had seen almost everything separate, but you layer them together and it gets its punch,” she said.
Joe Holdman, a senior theatre tech and design major from Minnetonka, Minn., is the show’s projection designer. “The projections are still developing, but I think they’ll be cool and really interesting,” he said. He’s incorporating prolific photographer Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era photographs to communicate the show’s powerful message. “It’s a mechanism to convey a dark message common to all Americans,” he told Lumen.
Despite having many shows under his belt, Holdman is still excited about this production. “It’s gonna make you think, take a look at our national and international history and evaluate it, and I think that’s something that needs to happen,” he commented.
The show is geared for more mature audiences, so “don’t bring your five-year-old cousin,” Matthees joked.
Matthees says the show is actually aimed toward college students, since it mimics the way our minds process all different sorts of stimuli at the same time. “It involves a lot of multi-tasking…we as college students work that way.”
MARAT/SADE opened last weekend and continues this weekend, with performances Thursday through Sunday in Viterbo’s Black Box theatre. A question and answer session with the cast will be held after Friday’s show.
Tickets are available at the Viterbo Box Office and on the Fine Arts Center web page.