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King Ubu

By Alfred Jarry

October 20-23, 27-29, 2016

Ubu Roi (translated alternately as “Ubu the King” or “King Turd”), by Alfred Jarry, is a parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with bits of Hamlet and King Lear tossed in the mix.

An outrageous farce, Ubu Roi examines the monstrous personality of Pere Ubu, a gluttonous and brutal creature who murders the royal family of an immaterial Poland in order to ascend to the throne. Prepared to execute anybody in his way, Ubu is ultimately faced with battling the king’s one remaining son, the last guardian of Poland’s sovereignty.v

Jarry modeled his evil character “Ubu” after one of his teachers in grade school. However, his adolescent joke as a fifteen-year-old was resurrected and evolved over the years into something much greater, as his re-work began to examine the absurdity of bloodlust and the thin line between tragedy and farce. 

Ubu Roi is hailed not only as a classic piece of French theatre, but also, in the hindsight of the 1920s, as the first “Absurdist” drama in the history of live theatre. Others have described it as the first of many literary styles.

In an Arts and Culture piece for The Paris Review in 2015, Dan Peipenbring wrote,”…a play so contentious that its premiere, in December 1896, was also its closing night. It lives in the annals of drama because it offended almost everyone who saw it. In this, it prefigured modernism, surrealism, Dadaism, and the theater of the absurd.”

One hundred twenty years later, the text displays similarities between Jarry’s characters and some of the current political scene’s more famous personalities too difficult to ignore. As Jarry intended, no one is unscathed.


Thursday, October 20 7:30pm
Friday, October 21 7:30pm
Saturday, October 22 7:30pm
Sunday, October 23 2:00pm

Thursday, October 27 7:30pm
Friday, October 28 7:30pm
Saturday, October 29 2:00pm & 7:30pm

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