The UW–Platteville’s Department of Performing and Visual Arts-Theatre continues its 2015–16 season with Peter Weiss’ historical play within a play, “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” — more commonly known as “Marat/Sade.”
Performances will be Nov. 18 at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 19–21 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. The evening performance on Wednesday, Nov. 18 will be a benefit performance; all tickets for the benefit are $6. All proceeds from the benefit performance will go to the Platteville Food Pantry and Family Promise of Grant County.
The main action of “Marat/Sade,” a musical, takes place in 1808 in the Charenton Asylum in France after the French Revolution. The play within a play, performed by the asylum’s inmates, references events surrounding the Revolution. The insane actors, who are under the direction of the notorious Marquis de Sade, portray the events leading up to the assassination of one of the Revolution’s leaders, Jean-Paul Marat. The actors occasionally let their insanity take control, and the male nurses and the hospital supervisor, Coulmier, must step in to restore order. “Marat/Sade” explores the ideas of class conflict, mental illness and the social violence of the French Revolution.
The nature of the play also provides a twist, as some of the actors are playing real people while others are playing actors playing real people.
“There are many layers to this experience,” said Dr. Ann Dillon Farrelly, associate professor of theatre at UW–Platteville and director of the play.
Twenty-two UW–Platteville students are in the cast of “Marat/Sade.”
“It’s always a challenge working with a large cast,” said Farrelly. “This play is interesting because every character remains onstage throughout the entire show. It definitely keeps me on my toes as a director, but it’s great to do a show that allows so many students to take part.”
The cast includes Joshua Rudesill as Jean-Paul Marat; Kyle James as Marquis de Sade; Dakota Vaassen as Coulmier; Zach Thomas as the herald; Rawad Abbas as Jacques Roux; Mitchell Losey as Duperret; Rachael Lester as Corday; Viviana Pereyra as Simonne Evrard; Aidan Livingston as Cucurucu; Nicholas Varela as Polpoch; Noah Thomas as Kokol; Blair Schuler as Rossignol; Mary Bade as Coulmier’s wife; Paul Krombos and Nathan Kirschbaum as the sister-nurses; Sunshine Balch, Grayson Basina, Logan Eigenberger, McKenna Farmer and Chirissa Zirbel as the patients of Charenton; and Cody Wisman and Jessica Wagner as the patients/musicians.
Other students involved in the production are stage manager Abbie Wagner, lighting designer Josh Lawyer, sound designer Charles Gilbert and dramaturg Elliott Frieden.
Jeffrey Strange, assistant professor of theatre and resident designer at UW–Platteville, is the scenic designer. Sarah Strange, theatre instructor and resident designer at UW–Platteville, is the costume designer. Dr. David Schuler, associate professor of theatre at UW–Platteville, is the musical director.
“One of the exciting elements of this production is that the entire theatre faculty are taking part,” said Farrelly.
“Marat/Sade” is an avant-garde play that first premiered on Broadway in 1965 and won the Tony Award for Best Play. According to Farrelly, the play “attempts to find a way to make two differing avant-garde theatre theories work together.” One theory revolves around alienating audience members from their emotions in order to get them to think and act, while the other theory focuses on assaulting audience members’ senses and getting them to emotionally connect rather than to think.
“What we are left with,” said Farrelly, “is a play of opposites, and the result is a weird and wonderful exploration of revolution in all its forms.
“This production is experiential ‘total theatre. It is as much an exploration of the nature of theatre itself as it is anything else. ‘Marat/Sade’ is a fascinating theatrical journey, and I am so excited that we have the opportunity to present this bizarre and important play to a Platteville audience.”
The production is recommended for mature audiences only. Tickets for the production are $11 for general admission, $10 for faculty/staff/seniors and $6 for students. All tickets include the additional $1 per ticket transaction fee. For tickets and information, call the University Box Office, 342-1298. For more information about the remainder of the 2015–16 theatre season, visit the theatre program’s website, www.uwplatt.edu/theatre.