A play within a play comes to the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi when the Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Marat/Sade” Sept. 30 in the Martha R. Tatum Theatre.
Opening the 2010-11 main stage season, the “Marat/Sade” will run Sept. 30; Oct. 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Oct. 10 at 2 p.m. with a pre-show talk at 1 p.m. First produced in 1963 by Peter Weiss, “Marat/Sade” received the New York Critics award for best play. Professor of Theatre Monica Hayes directs the Southern Miss adaptation.
“Marat/Sade” centers on a group of inmates in an asylum for political prisoners who stage a play that culminates with the assassination of Jean-Paul Marat, a famous writer and political radical.
“Weiss’ masterpiece influenced generations of artists,” Hayes said. “The work predates musical theatre landmarks “Hair”and “Les Miserables.”
With the French Revolution serving as a backdrop, inmates in the historical Charenton Asylum act out this story of passion for freedom and lust for control. The infamous French aristocrat and revolutionary writer Marquis de Sade, who is a prisoner at Charenton, directs the inmate play.
“The Marquis de Sade was a proponent of the early sexual revolution,” said Joseph Lopez, a third year MFA performance student, who plays this role. “He wanted people to be much more free in themselves; he wanted people to accept who we are in human nature.”
The asylum is run by Coulmier, who has invited elite members of the public and his own family to view the play in order to prove his enlightened approach to rehabilitation matches what he sees as the ideals of the Napoleonic age. The story gets interesting, because de Sade has other plans for this performance.
“Weiss uses this parable of the French Revolution, the violent and bloody terrors that followed, and the Napoleonic Empire to blend the audience with the playwright, the characters and Sade’s play within the play,” Hayes explains. “Through this 1960’s experimental approach, the audience has an environmental experience that presents a universal question about mankind’s repeated cycles of violence and war.”
Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens and military, and $6 for students. Order tickets online at www.southernmisstickets.com or call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at 601.266.5418 or 800.844.8425