Theater arts and dance department puts on interpretative performance

Theater regulars are used to the announcement for cell phone silence and prohibition of flash photography during a performance. But for the Woyzeck Project, an experimental interactive theater piece currently running at Norris Hall, co-creator Carl Flink would like audience members to completely disregard those rules. Flink, department of theater arts and dance chairman, said cell phones, text messaging and picture taking are highly encouraged at the performances. The play, which debuted Thursday and will run through Oct. 18, was originally written by George Buchner in 1836. He died of typhus at 23, before the work was finished. Since itâÄôs not written in sequential order, the play lends itself to be interpreted any number of ways. While some renditions of Woyzeck put the pieces into a systematic order, Flink said the directors and students knew early on they didnâÄôt want to take the traditional theatrical route. âÄúWe didnâÄôt spend a lot of time looking at what had happened before. We listened to our intuition a lot,âÄù Flink said. The final product is a mixture of interpretive dance, acting and dancing. Cast member Allison Witham explained the piece as a group of small âÄúperformative vignettesâÄù where audience members wander freely through Norris Hall, viewing different scenes. Differing from traditional theater where actors play specific roles, almost the whole cast of Woyzeck play either Franz Woyzeck or his lover, Marie. Cast member Dan DukichâÄôs depicts playwright Buchner, a character that doesnâÄôt exist in all interpretations of the piece. âÄúAs far as acting goes, itâÄôs a little more like a rock concert,âÄù Dukich said. Flink said heâÄôs heard a mix of reactions from the audience, but they use âÄúpassionateâÄù words like âÄúprovocative, stunned and scared âÄî but in a good way âÄî and horrified.âÄù The piece doesnâÄôt allow for comments like âÄúthat was nice,âÄù Flink said, âÄúit demands a powerful response.âÄù Caroline Younts, who plays a version of Marie, said she can tell from the beginning whether or not people are going to enjoy the performance. âÄúYounger people, college students and our peers, are very receptive; they get into it,âÄù Younts said. âÄúOlder people, peopleâÄôs parents and other subscribers can be a little bit more defensive and donâÄôt want us in their personal space.âÄù Tine Le , who attended the program on Friday, said she wasnâÄôt crazy about the showâÄôs open structure. âÄúThe audience was not informed of the back story of the play so it was extremely confusing and the symbolism was unable to be understood,âÄù Le said. âÄúWe could poll 20 people and almost certainly, each one would have a different trajectory,âÄù Flink said. Regardless of whether people enjoy the play or find it completely disturbing, people are spreading the word around and coming back multiple times, he said. âÄúWe werenâÄôt a third sold on Thursday, but five of the last six shows sold out,âÄù Flink said. With an audience capacity of 55, Flink said he is very happy with the way the performance turned out. Originally, Sunday matinee performances were scheduled, but had to be cancelled when directors realized the sun shining in through Norris HallâÄôs windows wouldnâÄôt allow for the dark moodiness of the piece. Three back-to-back shows at 7, 8, and 9 p.m. run every night, and Flink said he wants to set up a Flickr site for audience members to upload photos from the performances. âÄúItâÄôs not a statement against traditional theater,âÄù Flink said. âÄúWeâÄôve just scratched the surface.âÄù