Theater Feature: DECOMPOSED THEATRE, OR THE HUMAN TRASHCAN (Trap Door Theatre in Chicago)

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by Tony Frankel on November 16, 2020

in Theater-Chicago,Virtual


Chicago’s amazing avant-garde company Trap Door Theatre is presenting a series of eight episodes adapted from Matei Vişniec’s Decomposed Theatre, or the Human Trashcan. This Romanian playwright and philosopher saw his plays banned under Romanian Communism in the 70s and 80s (gee with titles like How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients, I wonder why). He received asylum in France in ’87 but since the end of the Ceaușescu regime, naturally, Romania is now proud to produce his works. But at this time in history, it is Americans who could use a dose of Vişniec, who warns of totalitarianism and consumers gobbling like pigs at a trough.

Marian Masoliver and Catherine Sullivan during rehearsal of Trap Door’s Decomposed Theatre.

And as it stands, is it just me, or is anybody else this year feel brainwashed and alienated? (Rhetorical.) Well, then we need this unique presentation (adapted by Jozefina Komporaly), a collaboration between this awesome ensemble and an international group of guest performers and directors. Performed LIVE on Zoom beginning December 3, 2020, a new episode will be released each week (schedule below) through February 4, 2021.

Directors: (top) Catherine Sullivan, Michael Mejia, Nicole Wiesner, Josiah Davis,
(bottom) Zachary Nicol, Cristina Pronzati, Marian Masoliver, and Katarzyna Winska.

There’s a great book of theatre essays, Differences on Stage, from which I paraphrase: The dissolution of Communist regimes was followed by wars and oppression, and both peace and war are awash in anthropological transformations which are turning many humans into “trash cans” of industrial production and flows of knowledge (which are happening too rapidly for us to evolve, I think). This is what Vişniec explores in the monologues and various dialogues of Decomposed Theatre — and listen carefully to see if you agree that the globalized West may not be a model of development.

Trap Door Theatre is committed to seeking out challenging and obscure works. Whether a forgotten European classic, an international project rarely seen in the United States, or an untarnished piece of American literature, Trap Door seeks diverse voices and presents them through innovative expression. We mix established and imaginative techniques to illustrate the absurdities of living in today’s society.

Tickets are only $15 an episode, cheaper in a bundle. Each episode will be available for streaming after the initial live performance. All performances will be approximately 25 minutes. For tickets visit Trap Door Theatre.

Episode 1: Directed by Katarzyna Wińska. Thursday, Dec. 3 at 8pm CST
Episode 2: Directed by Zachary Nicol Thursday, Dec. 10 at 8pm CST
Episode 3: Directed by Michael Mejia Thursday, Dec. 17 at 8pm CST
Episode 4: Directed by Marian Masoliver Thursday, Jan. 7 at 8pm CST
Episode 5: Directed by Nicole Wiesner Thursday, Jan. 14 at 8pm CST
Episode 6: Directed by Cristina Pronzati Thursday, Jan. 21 at 8pm CST
Episode 7: Directed by Josiah Davis Thursday, Jan. 28 at 8pm CST
Episode 8: Directed by Catherine Sullivan Thursday, Feb. 4 at 8pm CST

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