Poster by Archie Fitzgerald
Over the last few weeks I had been participating in ‘audience investigations’ for A-Peg‘s production of ‘King of Ubu’. The 1896 play, written by Alfred Jarry, was originally rejected by French audiences after it’s first line of ‘Merdre!’ caused a riot which carried on throughout the production. This reaction caused Jarry to remove Ubu from the theatre, yet it cemented the controversial play as influential to the Theatre of the Absurd and Surrealism.
Hosted at the Southbank Arts Centre in Southville, A-Peg’s experimental production was an anarchic and largely improvised night which had audience members up on their feet in acts such as ‘sausage playing’, swordfighting with bananas and other absurdities. The orchestra, led by Helibase, provided a welcome atmosphere for the production through the use of re-appropriated instruments and improvised choral work which directed the audience and performers through the surrealism.
Although as a performer, it could seem biased, I must stress that I did not know until four hours before going on stage that I would be acting in this production.
As a volunteer, I found A-Peg’s experimental approach to the play to be refreshing, fun, unpretentious (as one would imagine when a recurring theme of the play is scatology), confidence building and relaxed. The workshops were a great antidote to any stress during the week and were attended by people from varied ages and backgrounds. This is not theatre for theatre-goers, this is theatre for the masses!
I would enthusiastically recommend anyone to keep an eye out for further productions or audience investigations with A-Peg – you will not know where you will end up but certainly you will have a lot of fun getting there.