Adams State Theatre presents “Marat/Sade”


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Total, immersive theatre – the Adams State University production, Marat/Sade by Peter Weiss, directed by Jenna Neilsen, Associate Professor of Theatre, opens at 7:30 p.m. May 1 and runs May 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9, in the Xperimental Theatre. There will be a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. May 10. Tickets go on sale Monday, April 20. In the intimate Xperimental Theatre, there are only 107 seats per performance.

"Marat/Sade is highly experimental, entertaining, and very different from what our program normally does," Neilsen said. Set in the Charenton Mental Asylum outside of Paris, after the French Revolution, Neilsen believes the theme and content is more relevant today than it was when it was written 50 years ago. The play takes apart ideas of what makes a revolution, and examines the question can we have a revolution without first knowing who we are? "Are we holding decision makers accountable for poor choices and actions? Why do so few have so much and the rest have so little? This production will speak to those tuned in to social relevance and activism."

Marat/Sade includes live music and songs, tense, physical action, and comedy. Realistic and stylistic layers create no division between characters and audience; and as this is a play within a play, the actors are called upon to act in two different worlds. "The audience is cast as visitors to the asylum," Neilsen added. "There is no fourth wall to divide the characters and the audience."

The play, completely titled The Persecution and Assassination of Jean Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade, was written by Peter Weiss, in West Germany in 1963. The play mixes period music and language and contemporary aspects. Some of the instruments are electric and the costumes harken back to 1808. "It is clear we are not in 1808," Neilsen said. "The whole play is written that way. Marat/Sade takes you into an historical moment and then back out again to reflect on that moment. The production is poignant and heartfelt."

Actors, playing duo roles, never leave the stage and include seniors David Boncyk, Shawnie Abbot, Erik Thurston, Clarissa McNamara, James Rodriguez, Jordan Hull, and Victoria Ricci as well as new, fresh faces. "The cast of 19 actors and 6 musicians span from first year ASU students to our seasoned stars," Neilsen said

Since reading the play in 2001, Neilsen has been "excited and terrified" to direct Marat/Sade. "I have put more work into this production than any other I've been involved in, either as an actor or director." Marat/Sade is intensely challenging for actors. "There is no escape for the inmates (the actors)." There is, however, an intermission – for the guests of Charenton are allowed some privileges.

The shows run time is approximately two hours. To reserve tickets for Marat/Sade, call 719-587-8499. Recommended for mature audiences only.