Theatrical contraband on campus
Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:11
The Department of Dramatic Arts at Brock University is now ready to deliver their largest production of the year called The Suicide, an adaptation of satirical proportions.
The production is an original translation from Nikolai Erdman’s original script which was banned by Stalin for “misrepresenting the Soviet apparatus’’.Erdman’s clear mockery of revolutionary times led him to be exiled to Siberia where the script was eventually found on the black-market.
It begins with Semyon, who is part of the working-class, who tumbles into a chain of misfortunes in which he is caught up in the propaganda machine of communist Russia.
“One of the funny things about the show is there are moments where Semyon is asking his wife for paper to write a suicide note on. It’s funny, but if you think about it, underneath the surface it is so grotesque and I think that is the aesthetic we try to go for. It’s interesting commentary on Russian history, art and the revolution at the time,” said Dylan Sylvester, Assistant Director and fourth-year Dramatic Arts and Production Design student at Brock.
The Suicide has brought together an assortment of individuals from professional faculty members to students.
“On stage we have people from many concentrations. People on stage aren’t necessarily performers, a lot of them are lighting designers, teachers, etc. It’s a nice range of skills that people bring to the stage,” said Sylvester.
Stephanie Baxter, Assistant Designer and Poster Designer and third-year Production Design student is confident The Suicide will allow people to see the truth through making light of the dark situations the production is themed around. “People learn when they laugh,” said Baxter.
For Sylvester, he is one of the many that have brought the production to life. This will be the student’s third production and first time assistant directing a show.
“It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy seeing the process of a show go up from many different perspectives. I feel like this is one I really connected with as far as the process goes; the research, being in the rehearsal hall, I have picked up a lot about not just directing, but the process as a whole.”
While working with the Director, Gyllian Raby, Sylvester has been thankful for the opportunity to work so closely with someone so experienced.
Raby began with the basic aesthetic for the production with Sylvester beginning work on the production in April 2012 where they started researching Russian history of Lenin, Stalin, the new economic policy and Erkman.
The main question that Sylvester has been asking himself is whether or not audiences will notice the parallels in their own lives.
“Obviously it was written in 1920s Russia, but it’s so relevant and has so many things in it that people will sit and react to and realize these are issues that haven’t gone away,” he said. “I feel like this show has actually changed my views and I think that is what we are trying to do.”
Beginning with the set, those involved with the production have carefully constructed it so it will convey the themes of the script.
“The set has got that feeling of the government being right on top of you. No matter what you do, they are always on you. That is one of the themes that we feel has relevance to today. Like the Occupy movement asking where does the power lie? What can we do as citizens of almost a regime?” said Sylvester.
Although Sylvester would not consider himself a Marxist after the research he has done, “part of me wants to say I don’t see a revolution happening because we are so set in our ways, but look at the show: there was a month long revolution and the Czar was overthrown. It just happens like that.”
“That’s the beauty of theatre, it is a window into life. When you watch something like The Suicide, you are going to see things that are relevant in your life.”
The Suicide will be running on Nov. 8 – 10 in Sean O’Sullivan Theatre. To purchase tickets visit arts.brocku.ca or the box office. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students/seniors and and $10 for groups.