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U of C professor to read new play on time-travel and Jarry’s Ubu Roi

By Rachel Woodward, Oct 11 2016 —

Mike Czuba is a sessional drama professor at the University of Calgary. As a part of his Dancing Monkey Laboratories collective, he will present a stage reading of his new work After us the Savage God at Wine-Ohs on Oct. 18.

“This is slightly different from most Dancing Monkey productions — usually those are very interdisciplinary — where this is something I’ve written as a more traditional-type play,” Czuba says. “We decided to put on this reading to get it out there. It’s about Alfred Jarry. The original idea was to do [Ubu Roi], but then I started reading about Jarry, and he’s a madman.”

Ubu Roi was written by Jarry and first performed in 1896 in Paris. The play — a parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear — tells the bizarre story of Ubu, who is attempting to lead a revolution. Czuba says that the story rings true today considering  the current political climate.

“When I started doing more research, it really connected to what is happening right now in politics. It’s amazing, it’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Czuba says. “Nothing has changed, Ubu still exists in this form, but even through the generations there’s always this kind of disgusting elitism.”

Czuba’s play will follow Jarry in his madness and adventures with Ubu. Czuba incorporated aspects of time-travel into the story in order to account for some of the madness.

Jarry supposedly died from malnutrition and alcoholism — reportedly consumed five or six bottles of wine a day — but Czuba thinks it might have been the time-travel that killed him.

“Through my research, I can say categorically that Alfred Jarry managed to create a time machine in his really shitty apartment. The play is him using [it] to try and kill Ubu because Ubu has taken over his life. He has to get rid of Ubu because it will be the only thing that is remembered,” he says. “I concluded again that it wasn’t the actual booze or the malnutrition, it was the time-travel killing him. It’s perfectly scientifically accurate.”

The reading of the play will be a unique way for artists in the city to get together, and — in Jarry’s fashion — drink and talk about art. The event is free and several recent U of C graduates plan to read.

“I wanted to create something where it would be this kind of atmosphere, but there is a specific point to the evening We are reading a full play, we are all mingling, and it’s not like people have to be quiet,” says Czuba.

The reading will take place at Wine-Ohs on Oct. 18 and is free to the public.

For more information, dancingmonkeylab.com

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