Photo Flash: Sneak Peek at Cutting Ball Theater's UBU ROI

December 23
6:11 PM 2013

Cutting Ball Theater continues its 15th season with 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 January 24 through February 23 (Press opening: January 30) at the Cutting Ball Theater in residence at EXIT on Taylor (277 Taylor Street) in San Francisco. Scroll down for a sneak peek at the cast!

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 Elliot 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.

Director Yury Urnov makes his Cutting Ball debut with UBU ROI. Urnov recently started the American chapter of his career with the highly successful production of You for Me for You, spending the 2011-12 season as a Director-in-Residence at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC. Born in Moscow, Russia, Urnov graduated from the Russian Academy of Theater Art (GITIS) in 2000 and has directed over 40 productions in his home country, Europe, and Africa. He was one of the first to discover and direct plays by the first generation of post-Soviet playwrights, such as Maksym Kurochkin, Olga Mukhina, and Yury Klavdiev, who are now internationally recognized as the leaders of the New Russian Drama movement. In Russia, Urnov translated and directed the national premieres of Martin McDonagh''s The Lieutenant of Inishmore and Sarah Ruhl''s Dead Man''s Cell Phone. Since 2002, he has worked closely with the Center for International Theater Development (directed by Philip Arnoult) on a number of international projects, including the 2009-2011 program New Russian Drama: Translation/Production/Conference, which brought over 20 contemporary Russian plays to America.

Rob Melrose is the Artistic Director and co-founder of the Cutting Ball Theater and works nationally as a freelance director. He has directed at the Guthrie Theater (Happy Days, Pen, Julius Caesar - with The Acting Company); Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Troilus and Cressida - in association with The Public Theater), Magic Theatre (An Accident, World Premiere); PlayMakers Rep (Happy Days); California Shakespeare Theater (Villains, Fools, and Lovers); Black Box Theatre (The Creature, World Premiere); Actors'' Collective (Hedda Gabler); The Gamm Theatre (Creditors); and Crowded Fire Theater (The Train Play), among others. Directing credits at Cutting Ball include the World Premiere of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night; Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, Pelleas & Melisande, the Bay Area Premiere of Will Eno''s Lady Grey (in ever lower light); The Tempest; The Bald Soprano; Victims of Duty; Bone to Pick and Diadem (World Premiere); Endgame; Krapp''s Last Tape; The Taming of the Shrew; Macbeth; Hamletmachine; As You Like It; The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World; Mayakovsky: A Tragedy; My Head Was a Sledgehammer; Roberto Zucco; The Vomit Talk of Ghosts (World Premiere); The Sandalwood Box; Pickling; Ajax for Instance; Helen of Troy (World Premiere); and Drowning Room (World Premiere). He is a recipient of the NEA / TCG Career Development Program award for directors. Melrose has a B.A. in English and Theater from Princeton University and an M.F.A. in directing from the Yale School of Drama. He has taught at Stanford University, UC Berkeley, USF, the University of Rhode Island, and Marin Academy. In addition to UBU ROI, translations include No Exit, Woyzeck, Pelléas and Mélisande, and The Bald Soprano; he recently translated Eugène Ionesco''s The Chairs for Cutting Ball''s March 2013 production.

Alfred Jarry (1873 - 1907) was a French writer born in Laval, Mayenne, France. Best known for his groundbreaking play UBU ROI (1896), which combined infantile humor, social satire, puppets, and Shakespearean parody, Jarry is often cited as a forerunner to the surrealist theater movement of the 1920s and 1930s. He wrote plays, novels, poetry, essays, and speculative journalism, presenting pioneering work in the field of absurdist literature. In his final years, Jarry, a bit of an eccentric, was a legendary and heroic figure to some of the young writers and artists in Paris, including Guillaume Apollinaire, André Salmon, and Max Jacob. In addition to UBU ROI, works for the stage include Caesar Antichrist (César-Antéchrist), Ubu Cuckolded (Ubu cocu), and Ubu Bound (Ubu enchaíné). Alfred Jarry''s career was brought to an unfortunate and early end when he died in 1907 at the age of 34 (from complications due to tuberculosis aggravated by drug and alcohol abuse), but his legacy lives on in the works of such playwrights as Eugène Ionesco and Samuel Beckett.

Cutting Ball Theater has assembled a talented ensemble for UBU ROI. An Associate Artist at Cutting Ball, David Sinaiko most recently appeared in the company''s productions of Krispy Kritters in the Scarlett Night, The Chairs, Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep, Tenderloin, Lady Grey (in ever lower light), The Tempest, Krapp''s Last Tape, ...and Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi, The Bald Soprano, Victims of Duty, and Endgame. Other Cutting Ball credits include The Taming of the Shrew, As You Like It, The Sandalwood Box, Ajax for Instance, Macbeth, 365 Plays/365 Days, Woyzeck, Chain Reactions, and RISK IS THIS...The Cutting Ball New Experimental Plays Festival. Additional credits include productions at Golden Thread Productions, Crowded Fire Theater, and San Francisco Playhouse; Sinaiko has been seen at the Goodman Theatre, The Actor''s Gang, and in the popular Bay Area one-man production of David Sedaris'' SantaLand Diaries. He was a founding member of Chicago''s New Crime Productions.

Associate Artist Ponder Goddard returns to Cutting Ball for UBU ROI; she last appeared in the company''s production of Strindberg Cycle: The Chamber Plays in Rep. Additional credits include Cutting Ball''s Taming of the Shrew and productions at Shakespeare''s Globe Theatre, The Cochrane Theatre (London), Grassroots Shakespeare London Company, 21 Limbs (London), and the Drama Centre.

Marilet Martinez was last seen on the Cutting Ball stage in the World Premiere of Tontlawald; she was also featured in the company''s Vanguardia festival and in the production of Mud, directed by Paige Rogers. Additional credits include productions at Crowded Fire Theater, Impact Theatre, Woman''s Will, Brava Theater, African-American Shakespeare Company, Teatrovision, San Francisco Mime Troupe, California Shakespeare Theater, SF Playwrights Center, Custom Made Theatre, Precarious Theatre, and Shadowlight Theatre, among others.

Rounding out the cast are Bill Boynton (Impact Theatre; As You Like It at Cutting Ball), Nathaniel Justiniano (Thrillpeddlers, WE Players), and Andrew P. Quick (Shakespeare Santa Cruz).

For tickets ($10-50) and more information, the public may visit or call 415-525-1205.

Photo Credit: Sarah Roland


Photo Flash: Sneak Peek at Cutting Ball Theater's UBU ROI
The gluttonous Mother (Ponder Goddard) and Father Ubu (David Sinako) over-indulge in UBU ROI.

Photo Flash: Sneak Peek at Cutting Ball Theater's UBU ROI
The gluttonous Mother (Ponder Goddard) and Father Ubu (David Sinako) over-indulge in UBU ROI.

Photo Flash: Sneak Peek at Cutting Ball Theater's UBU ROI
The gluttonous Mother (Ponder Goddard) and Father Ubu (David Sinako) over-indulge in UBU ROI.

Photo Flash: Sneak Peek at Cutting Ball Theater's UBU ROI
The gluttonous Mother (Ponder Goddard) and Father Ubu (David Sinako) over-indulge in UBU ROI.

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