UNO productions hope to spur a little audience participation


By Kelly A. McCoy

Forget your notions of inactive play-watching when you see UNO’s productions of *Dutchman and *Miss Julie. This experience is not for the passive. It is just that: an experience.

Starting Feb. 26, the theater department will be inviting its audience to participate in the dramatic process. The cast will first perform the two 20th-century short plays as intended by their authors. *Dutchman was written by Imamu Amiri Bkara and *Miss Julie was written by August Strindberg

However, in breaking from stride, the department will then incorporate the techniques of Augusto Boal and the Theater of the Oppressed, says Doug Paterson, chair of the theater board. This is the first time these techniques have been used in Nebraska theaters.

Paterson says the Theater of the Oppressed operates on the idea that “oppression is a monologue.”

“The best relationship to a human is a dialogue,” Paterson says, and that as people are oppressed by race, class, gender, etc., they find themselves participating in a monologue of sorts. The idea of this theater experience is to “find a way to reestablish a social dialogue.”

This is done shortly after an intermission that follows these plays. The cast of the play will invite the audience to participate by watching specific characters in a scene and deciding what they would do in their shoes.

The audience member is then invited to join the cast and participate from stage and test out new solutions with the characters from the play. The rest of the audience is then engaged in a discussion of the new solution.

Paterson says this allows the audience to observe with the play in a “critical thinking mode” and then allows them the opportunity to “transform the play,” creating a virtual choose-your-own-adventure story. He says no one is coerced into participating past their level of comfort.

The plays will run alternating nights through March 9 and will take place in the Black Box Theater in the Weber Fine Arts building. For reservations, call 554-2335.

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