UW-Green Bay Theatre will present the fantastical road trip bobrauschenbergamerica beginning Oct. 18 in the Jean Weidner Theatre at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. The play is described as a glorious collage of images and sensations — artist Robert Rauschenberg’s childhood home, a human martini, a pizza delivery boy, more than a few chicken jokes, and more. Here, the production’s director and actors weigh in on this fun and unusual romp.
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“It’s kind of difficult to encapsulate in just a few sentences,” said director and UW-Green Bay Theatre Prof. Laura Riddle. “… It’s looking at America in the second half of the 20th century. It’s very much a celebration of America.
“Rauschenberg was known for making what he called combines,” Riddle continued, “and those were put together out of found objects and sometimes painted on top of prints on top of that. So the play is considered a theatrical combine.”
There’s at least one thing audiences should know prior to seeing the play, Riddle said.
“What may be confusing to an audience, and will really help them if they understand this coming into the experience, is that there is no story line,” she said. “There’s no narrative text for them to follow. It is essentially a variety show. So there are 43 scenes, 42 scenes, and they follow one after another but are not connected.”
That’s a challenge for actors, but one they enjoy.
“I love the collage aspect,” said UW-Green Bay senior Wendy Huber, “that crazy stuff happens and we’re focusing on one thing and all the sudden we jump to something completely different. It’s a fun roller coaster.”
Theatre veteran Derek James Knabenbauer, also a senior, agreed.
“It’s so unusual in comparison to anything else that I’ve ever done,” he said. “And it’s very, very fun.”
bobrauschenbergamerica ties in with this year’s UW-Green Bay Common Theme of Creativity, Innovation and Vision, Riddle said.
“It is such a unique style of theatre, and that makes it both interesting and very, very challenging because it’s not the way we’re used to working,” she said. “We have to be open to improvisation and just approach it one day at a time.”
As for who should come see the show?
“I think this is a very good show for people who have a preconceived notion of what a theatrical experience is and should be like,” Knabenbauer said, “and I’m really excited for us to just smash it.”
That’s Huber’s take, too.
“Bring an open mind,” she said. “And just come along for the ride.”
Click here for tickets.
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