The Odyssey for Human Identity: UD’s Woyzeck and the Spring Senior Studios

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Directed by guest artist Dylan Key, Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck took to the main stage from March 30 to April 9, bringing audiences into the psychedelic reality of the mind and the inner search to find purpose. 

Upon the beginning of drama associate professor Stefan Novinski’s sabbatical,Key, a UD alumnus, stepped forward as the semester’s mainstage director, taking upon himself the challenge of adapting the unfinished tragedy of “Woyzeck.” The original playwright, Büchner, was a member of the Young Germany movement who began writing his masterpiece in 1836.

The original plot followed that of a notable case that took place in 1824: a soldier by the name of Johann Christian Woyzeck was convicted of murder, pleading his case as insanity. Büchner examines his complex home life with a child born out of wedlock, the medical experiments he undergoes to make a meager income and his chilling apocalyptic visions. Upon discovering his lover’s affair, he kills her in a fit of jealous rage.

Though historians digress that a third act was in the works to explore the three-year trial that occurred after the murder, Büchner succumbed to typhoid in 1837, his play unfinished. His death did not deter others from creating different adaptations for his tragedy. Key and his actors took a more organic, contemporary approach to the play, bringing about Woyzeck’s story through the colorful pursuits of present-day generations to connect to the modern audience in an intimate way.

“I think I’ve learned how exciting it is to make art within such a specific context. The students performing, and the students, faculty, and family watching the show have so many shared touch-tones, ” explained Key. “Their communication is happening all the time, on so many levels, and it is such a rich, beautiful tapestry to step into.”

As “Woyzeck” comes to a close, three of the drama department seniors prepare for the next two weeks before their studio plays: tech week and dress rehearsal week. Caroline Kurdy, David Huner, and Hannah Kneen are directing “The Lesson,” “Am I Blue?,” and “Apollo de Bellac” respectively, three vastly different one-act plays that pose enigmatic questions about the present-day culture. 

The Lesson” creates an academic scenario between an eccentric professor, an eager-to-please pupil, and a no-nonsense maid. While the pupil attempts to impress the professor with her vast knowledge, he is consistently frustrated at her shortcomings towards his definition of perfection. The situation gradually becomes violent, and the maid must assist the professor in straightening out a bloody affair. 

“I picked this play because it’s wacky and fun, and contains an erudite aspect that fits UD well!” said Kurdy. “It also has some very spooky, creepy undertones that really speak to me, and I hope to the audience as well. It’s a good mix between UD and me!”

Am I Blue?”  follows the story of two young, lonely souls of New Orleans in 1968. John Polk is an 18-year-old fraternity member, swept away by the general crowd, who encounters Ashbe Williams, a small 16-year-old whose colorful, eclectic view of life stifles her solitude at home. The unlikely duo sifts through their emotions with marshmallows, liquor, and a dance or two, creating a melancholy, bittersweet scene. 

“The path we find ourselves in leads towards identity, and finding a place in the world,” said Huner. “It may seem that we don’t have a place in the world, but there always seems to be one specific person whom you belong with.”

Finally, “Apollo de Bellac” presents a shy young woman named Agnes, attempting to find a job as an inventor amongst a pretentious crowd of professionals. A mysterious man who identifies himself as the Apollo de Bellac reveals to her that the solution to all of her woes is a deftly kept secret: the key to a man’s heart is to compliment his beauty. 

The senior studio performances will take place from April 28-30 in the Drama building, with ticket sales beginning in the near future. 

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