As we are gearing up for The Bald Soprano, we wanted to take some time and give some background on the show and the theatrical movement that the play came out of.
The Bald Soprano is an absurdist satire on the English language and culture written by Romanian-French playwright Eugene Ionesco. It takes place in a middle class English home and centers around the interactions of the homeowners, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, their guests, the Martins, their maid, Mary, and the Fire Chief.
When you see the show, you might understand why it’s categorized as an “absurdist” play. The majority of the dialogue has absolutely no meaning and often times there is literal gibberish spewing from the actors. Traditionally, “absurd” is a musical term for “out of harmony.”
Now before you make up your mind that this is a good reason not to see the show, let me explain why this strange dialogue situation is happening.
Absurdism is an extension of the Existentialist movement of the mid-20th century that focused on the pointlessness of mankind and their societies. This led to many social and cultural shifts both positive and negative. Yet, considering that this was in the aftermath of WW2, it makes sense that there would be emotional and psychological damage that had to be repaired. Contemplating the reason for human existence is likely part of that healing process. While the period was short-lived, the literature of the time was heavily influenced by the writers and artists who took on the beliefs of existentialism.
The lovely people at The Drama Teacher have explained the mindset of the existentialists
“The existentialist believes that man starts life with nothing. His life is made up of acts; through the process of acting man becomes conscious of his original nothingness. By choosing to act, man passes into the arena of human responsibility which makes him the creator of his own existence. However, the existence inevitably ends with death. Man returns to his original state of nothingness. This existential notion eliminates the Western concept of man’s exalted nature. Life becomes meaningless and useless – a condition which is in essence “absurd”. Man’s only freedom in this condition is the exercise of his conscious mind.”- J.L. Crawford
This is a LOT more information than you asked for just to spend an hour at the theatre, I know.
Ionesco wanted his audience to see how nonsensical mundane life can be. He used the ridiculous English language and our unwillingness to communicate with each other, to prove his point. What we as the audience gain at the end of the play is a chance to examine our own relationships and determine how we can make our interactions more intentional and meaningful.
Hopefully, now that you have a little bit of information, the play will hold more meaning for you. The Bald Soprano premieres on October 12th at 7pm at the ACT I Studio. We have two performances, the final one on October 13th at 7pm.
I am going to sit down with Director, Bob Whaley, his production assistant Jay Stika and some of the actors soon so be on the lookout for that video!