Cutting Ball Extends UBU ROI Through 3/9
Cutting Ball Theater announces that it will add an additional eight performances of its current hit production of Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI in a new translation by Rob Melrose. Russian director Yury Urnov (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company) helms this irreverent take on world leaders, featuring David Sinaiko, Ponder Goddard, Marilet Martinez, Bill Boynton, Nathaniel Justiniano, and Andrew Quick. UBU ROI plays now through March 9 (added performances: Thursday, Feb 27, 7:30pm; Friday, Feb 28, 8pm; Saturday, March 1, 8pm; Sunday, March 2, 5pm; Thursday, March 6, 7:30pm; Friday, March 7, 8pm; Saturday, March 8, 8pm; Sunday, March 9, 5pm) at the Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street) in San Francisco. For tickets ($10-50) and more information, the public may visit cuttingball.com or call 415-525-1205.
As a result of the extension of UBU ROI, the first two weeks of staged readings for Cutting Ball's RISK IS THIS... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival will be held at the Tides Theater (533 Sutter Street, 2nd Floor). RISK IS THIS... is one of the only play festivals in America solely dedicated to experimental works for the stage. This year's festival (February 28 through March 29) features five new works in staged readings, including two new plays from Cutting Ball resident playwright Andrew Saito.
About UBU ROI, Jean Schiffman of the San Francisco Examiner declared, "[Ubu Roi is a] highly entertaining work with comically anachronistic touches, and a theme of ruthless acquisition that can resonate with modern audiences. This re-envisioned quasi-classic is a wonderful addition to Cutting Ball's repertoire." Adam Brinklow from Edge SF noted " 'Ubu Roi' proves that experimental theater need not be completely incomprehensible, and that even the incomprehensible parts don't have to forgo being effective drama," and Woodrow Currie at SF Station said of the production "what makes this show stand out most of all is the way it flouts more traditional, realist conceptions of theater as actors imitating life for the audience of pure spectators... Keeping much in the intention of [playwright Alfred] Jarry's original, this play makes us question what is possible or even allowed in modern theater. Asking questions of theater's role that are as pertinent now as when the show premiered more than a century ago."
When Alfred Jarry's UBU ROI premiered in Paris on December 10, 1896, the audience broke into a riot at the utterance of its first word. Jarry's parody of Shakespeare's Macbeth defies theatrical tradition through its disregard for audience expectations, replacing Shakespeare's tragic hero with a greedy, sadistic ogre who becomes the King of Poland by force and through the debasement of his people. Set in a modern luxury kitchen, this re-visioned UBU ROI features a wealthy American couple who play out their fantasies of wealth and power to excess as they take on the roles of Mother and Father Ubu. Cutting Ball's version of UBU ROI may bring to mind the fall from grace of many a contemporary political leader corrupted by power, from Eliot Spitzer to Dominique Strauss-Kahn. UBU ROI was developed as part of the 2013 edition of RISK IS THIS... The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival.
"For me, UBU ROI is the reflection of Friedrich Nietzsche's Übermensch, an 'Over-man' or 'Super-man,' in Alfred Jarry's false mirror," said director Yury Urnov. "If it's true that Nietzsche was one of the founding-fathers of the fascist aesthetic, then Jarry's play can be perceived as the first anti-fascist work of art in which the author reveals the conflict between superhuman ambitions and the part of himself which is 'human, all too human.' I think of Alfred Jarry as the first realist, not just the first absurdist; I look forward to exploring his work in this context, and sharing this insightful and exciting new translation of his seminal play with the Cutting Ball's audience."
"In many ways UBU ROI is the beginning of avant garde theater," said Cutting Ball Artistic Director Rob Melrose. "It had its premiere at the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre in Paris in 1896 and the utterance of the first word 'Merdre' caused riots rivaled only by premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. For many years, productions tried to capture the shock of the first production - a very tall order that many would argue is impossible in today's world of South Park, performance art, and YouTube videos. UBU ROI has become a favorite of innovative auteur directors; the impossible epic, cartoon-like nature of the play makes it a delightful challenge for visionary directors. We are fortunate to have Yury Urnov, who grew up and trained in Russia, at the helm of Cutting Ball's production; his directing career includes many breathtakingly bold adaptations of classic works."
Continued Melrose, "In translating UBU ROI, my goal was to get back to some of Jarry's original impulses. What is wonderful about this play is that on one hand it is the lowest of low comedy - appealing to our most vile instincts. On the other hand, it was written by a precocious and misunderstood genius with the highest level of intellect and invention. What is unfortunate about this play is that given the state of governments and human nature, it is always a contemporary play, always relevant."
Co-founded in 1999 by theater artists Rob Melrose and Paige Rogers, Cutting Ball Theater presents avant-garde works of the past, present, and future by re-envisioning classics, exploring seminal avant-garde texts, and developing new experimental plays. The company has commissioned, developed, and produced new experimental plays, and has partnered with Playwrights Foundation, and the Magic Theatre/Z Space New Plays Initiative to commission new experimental works. In addition to producing West Coast Premieres and re-imaging various classics, Cutting Ball Theater has produced nine World Premieres and seven World Premiere translations. Cutting Ball received the 2008 San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie award for outstanding talent in the performing arts, and was voted "Best Theater Company" in the 2010 San Francisco Bay Guardian Best of the Bay issue. The company also earned the Best of SF award in 2006 and "Best Experimental Theater Company" in 2012 from SF Weekly, and was selected by San Francisco magazine as Best Classic Theater in 2007. Cutting Ball Theater was featured in the February 2010 and 2012 issues of American Theatre Magazine. In 2012, Cutting Ball was awarded a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a three-year residency for resident playwright Andrew Saito. The American Theatre Wing, best known as the creator of the Antoinette Perry "Tony" Awards, awarded the company with a 2013 National Theatre Company grant.
Following Cutting Ball's new translation of UBU ROI, RISK IS THIS...THE CUTTING BALL NEW EXPERIMENTAL PLAYS FESTIVAL returns in February with five new works in staged readings that push the boundaries of what theater can be. Rounding out the main stage season in April, Cutting Ball presents the American Premiere of Samuel Gallet's COMMUNIQUÉ N°10, in a World Premiere Translation, and directed by, Rob Melrose.