Parenting sometimes feels like one big adventure in absudity. We start flash cards in utero. Save shriveled umbilical cords. Force creamed peas on babies using spoons cleverly disguised as incoming planes. Expect children to thrive in overcrowded classrooms. Tell babysitters they’ve absolutely nothing to fear. Assume our teens have never, ever heard of sex.
How refreshing to leave the absurdity of one’s own life to enjoy absurdity in other settings. That’s just what I did Saturday night as the theatre arts department at Scottsdale Community College presented a coupling of two one-act plays by Eugene Ionesco, a Romanian and French playwright and dramatist known for crafting “Theatre of the Absurd.”
Finally, something that feels even odder than real life. The evening opened with two circles, two chairs, two long-married English folk and one newspaper. I suppose the other spouse was more of an iPad or Kindle type in a world devoid of such gizmos. It would be fitting considering the decision to imbue the work with voice-modulation software and other technologies.
“The couple’s deluded communication,” says director Randy Messersmith, “reflects humanity’s innate isolation and the subtle idea that a better world lies just beyond our reach.” It seemed a perfect parody on the futility of “friending” on Facebook in an age when revolutionaries “tweet” before taking to the street.
Messersmith, who serves as director for the SCC theatre arts department, says he combined “The Bald Soprano” and “The Chairs” to provide “an entertaining and moving portrait of language’s diminishing power in contemporary society.” The strength and precision of his directing was especially evident in the movement and voice work of an exceptionally talented cast of student actors.
Also exceptional is the work of producer/scenic artist Kimb Williamson and set/media/sound designer Boyd Branch. The Messersmith, Williamson, Branch trio is powerful — and Valley students are fortunate to have these talents in their midst. While I’m not a fan of “Theatre of the Arsurd,” I’ve relished my SCC time with Ionesco — because these are works unlike anything else I’ve seen on Valley stages.
The absudity of everyday life will always be there. The two socks that become one in the clothes dryer. The single-serve ice cream that tastes best by the dozen. The pets who clean up better than your average tween.
But “Theatre of the Absurd” SCC-style — with all its masks, laptops, banging pipes and more — only runs through April 9. Click here to catch it.
Note: Click here for a calendar of other April offerings from Maricopa Community Colleges.
Coming up: Troubadour tales