Last week, the interior of the Southern Theater was being transformed into a maze of rooms within rooms. The lobby was a labyrinth of hidden alcoves, while sheets of white plastic cascaded from the catwalks of the theater separating groups of seats from aisles. The stage, meanwhile, had become a box made of chain-link fencing.
Welcome to “The Woyzeck Project,” a visceral restaging of Georg Büchner’s play “Woyzeck” that was originally produced by the University of Minnesota Department of Theater Arts and Dance in Norris Hall in October 2008. This new version is by Luverne Seifert (head of the department’s BA Theatre Program), Carl Flink (current chair of the department), special guest advisor Michael Sommers (assistant professor in the department), and the performers of Black Label Movement (Flink’s movement company).
The cast of 35 performers and creators — going by the name BLM/Seifert/Flink CREATE — has re-imagined the Southern’s interior as the tangled, psychologically distraught mind of Büchner and his protagonist. The play relates the often-sordid, sad and disturbing story of a soldier’s attempts to maintain his sanity amidst accusations of murder, traitorous love, political torture and a diet of canned peas.
It’s a participatory work. Audience members travel independently through the surreal landscape created in the Southern, and are encouraged to text comments to“The Woyzeck Project” Facebook page (via Black Label Movement’s page), and shoot and upload video and photographs. According to Seifert, “Around every corner of the entire building the story of Woyzeck will unfold through dioramas, disturbing installations and poetic cascades of moving bodies.”