Seattle Theatre Works presents
Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck
In collaboration with 14/48 Partner Projects
Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 8pm
Rarely Produced Masterpiece Woyzeck Opens in Seattle
It’s one of the most obscure classics in the theatre canon. Georg Büchner’s “Woyzeck” stands among the great works of theatre that not only transformed audiences and artists understanding of what could be done on stage, but it also continues to highlight social justice issues around the impact of poverty and societal oppression on the most vulnerable.
Opening at North Seattle College’s Stage One Theatre on September 16 and playing through October 1, Seattle Theatre Works in collaboration with 14/48 Member Projects presents this rarely produced classic in the spirit the writer intended – a gritty, boundary breaking, thinking person’s drama that will raise awareness about the role society has to play in the oppressive forces that weigh on those living in poverty.
A young playwright and scholar with a social justice mission to bring the issue of poverty and its consequences to the public’s attention, Buchner began writing what would become his most famous and studied work in 1836. Unfortunately, he succumbed to Typhus in 1837 at the age of 23 before completing the script, leaving only fragments of several drafts of this masterpiece in a desk drawer. Fortunately, these fragments were preserved, published in 1879, and produced for the first time in 1913 – launching “Woyzeck” into the theatre canon as one of the most influential plays of the 20th century. Some say it was the beginning of modernism and realism in theatre, others say it was the beginning of expressionism. One can see its influence on the likes of Bertolt Brecht, Antione Artaud, and Will Eno.
Based on a real murder case that took place in Germany in 1821 involving one of the first insanity defenses in legal history, “Woyzeck” tells the story of a soldier struggling to survive abject poverty with a common law wife and new child. To make ends meet, he does his military service, performs odd jobs for his eccentric Captain, and subjects himself to strange experiments by a Doctor who forces him to eat only a diet of peas. As the forces bearing down on his existence begin to cause him to lose grip on his sanity, Woyzeck is forced over the edge when he discovers that his common law wife, Maria, engages in an affair with another soldier.
Why produce this play in Seattle now? With the growing economic disparity in the city exemplified by rising housing costs and the growing homeless problem, not to mention cuts to social services programs serving populations suffering from mental illness, “Woyzeck” promises to provide a catalyst for discussion about these urgent social issues impacting the Seattle community.
“Woyzeck” is adapted and directed by Daniel Tarker with design support by Steve Cooper (Lighting), Amy Lazerte (Costumes) Michael Owcharuk (Sound & Music), and Kim Rosin (Sets) with production support from Justin Babbitt (Stage Manager) and Kali Greenberg (ASM).
The cast includes Sarah Bixler (Ensemble), Leo Campbell-Klein (Ensemble), Peter Cook (The Captain), Matthew Edwards (Andre), Mike Gilson (Drum Major), Stephanie Graham (Marie), Chris Mayse (Woyzeck), Zoey Poole (Girl), Corey Spruill (Ensemble), Aaron Sterne (Boy), and Steven Sterne (The Doctor).
Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm with an industry night performance Monday September 19 at 8 pm, Sunday Sept. 25 at 2 pm, and Thursday Sept. 29 at 8 pm. For more information, see seattletheatreworks.org or Stranger Tickets.