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Woyzeck

 

Written by Georg Büchner. Performed in the Barn Theatre at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Winter 2016.

 

This 19th century tragedy of the working class may be best known for its mutability: the intended order of its scenes remains unknown. No matter how one arranges its segments the plot follows the constant degradation of Franz Woyzeck. A soldier suffering from abject poverty and disturbing hallucinations, Woyzeck suffers at the hands of everyone around him: insulted by the Captain, experimented upon by the Doctor, and assailed by the Drum Major. Woyzeck’s mental state unravels until he kills Marie, the mother of his child, and seems to drown himself afterward.

 

When Woyzeck can withstand the abuses of society no longer, he directs his frustration at the only person beneath him—a woman. In order to highlight the gender politics present in Büchner’s work, I only cast women and gender nonbinary performers. By utilizing cross-gender casting to portray a male-dominated world I sought to bring greater awareness to the power structures within Woyzeck. Meanwhile the mise en scène took inspiration from D.I.Y. subcultures: costumes (Alyssa Ponce) reflected the unglamorous androgyny of the 90s grunge scene and scenery (Austin Kottkamp) was inspired by the industrial aesthetics of Robert Rauschenberg and neo-Dada. Stark, unsettling lighting (Alyssa Glenn) and distorted audio (Kyle Sanger) gave audiences a glimpse into Woyzeck’s crumbling sense of reality. Directing Woyzeck cemented my love for Viewpoints, a technique which allowed me to realize both the archetypal characters and phantasmagorical qualities of the play.