By Samantha Samant
“This crew of 21 is some of the most talented human beings I’ve worked with, and that includes students and professionals and all kinds of company members,” Melanie Armer, freelance director of Post Theatre Company’s upcoming production of “Ubu Roi“ said. “This is a really hard working and talented group of people.”
During the final week of rehearsals, all of the usual who’s who or who’s putting in the most effort in their role, seemed to melt away as everyone worked together as a cohesive and well oiled “debraining machine.”
The cast members were working in sync with each other, jumping right into the work without missing a beat or taking a short pause from the warm up. The cast’s action can truly described by one word — ensemble.
“The sense of ensemble, here [in a PTC production] is easier to build than in a professional production where you have a scattering of people from different walks of life,” Armer noted. “Although there’s a tremendous diversity within this cast, the university setting and the way LIU runs the theater program both really support a sense of unity and a sense of ensemble work within the broader company that is LIU Post. These 21 people are prepared for the kind of work that it takes to be an ensemble and they’re excited about it,” Armer said.
The ensemble work was echoed by Logan Clingan, a junior musical theater major, who plays the part of Ubu Roi. He noted, “How collaborative the ensemble has made the piece; the comedic parts of the show are found through the ensemble.”
“Ubu Roi,” by Alfred Jarry, is “an incredibly intelligent incredibly dark play about fascism.” But also, “it’s the funniest piece of theater I’ve worked on, in ten years,” Armer said. “This play was written a long time ago, and in presenting this production it was really important to us, me and the design team and the department, to not set it in 2018 America. To allow the play to talk about the fact that fascism has been going on a long time; it’s a recurring theme in politics. It’s a world theme; it’s not just America, it’s not just Germany, it’s not just Trump, it’s not just Hitler. It was going on in France, it was going on in Poland, it was going on all over the place and it’s going on all over the place now, and so to treat that in a comic way, it’s a tremendous joy, because how else do you deal with that kind of pain, other than to bring it to the fore and really get into people’s minds by laughing, get into people’s minds by finding the comedy of it,” Armer said.
“Ubu Roi” is in a category called theater of the absurd, which means it seems nonsensical in nature but has a message worked into it (usually). When working on a play governed by absurdity, not realism, it can be tough to develop character.
There are “growing pains,” said Emileigh Aungst, a junior musical theater major, who plays the part of Ma Roi. Once Aungst found her character, she grew to like Ma Roi. “She’s silly and I love it because I get to bring a lot of myself into it,” Aungst said.
Clingan, who plays Ubu Roi, has also developed his character. “I love that I have total freedom to do what I want with this character. He wants as much power as he can and it’s so much fun to use the different ways to get that power,” Clingan said.
“Ubu Roi” opens in the Little Theater main stage on Friday, Oct. 5. Tickets are available at www.tix55.com/ptc700 or at the box office the day of the performance.