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CPA to be ‘enveloped in the labyrinth’

A preview of ‘The Labyrinth,’ which opens Friday night in the CPA Center Theatezzr

Published: Monday, November 8, 2010

Updated: Monday, November 8, 2010 06:11

Characters Bruno, Etienne and Micaela of Arrabal’s “The Labyrinth,” which premiers Friday at the CPA

Photo by Dan Miller/ UT Photographer

Characters Bruno, Etienne and Micaela of Arrabal’s “The Labyrinth,” which premiers Friday at the CPA.

"Alice in Wonderland" meets S&M as UT's Departments of Theatre and Film present "The Labyrinth" by controversial playwright Fernando Arrabal on November 12-14 and 17-21.

In "The Labyrinth," Etienne, played by Pat Miller, finds himself in a park latrine with no clue how he ended up in this strange world. The latrine is surrounded by a labyrinth of blankets that prevent Etienne from escaping because he is told anyone that ventures into the labyrinth never returns or is found dead from starvation. If that wasn't enough, he is chained by the ankle to the gimp-suit wearing man Bruno, played by Christopher Douglas, further spoiling his plan to escape.

The plot consists of other out-of–the-ordinary events and conversations with Etienne as he waits for his court hearing with an insane judge, played by Marshall Kupresanin, on charges he doesn't understand. Often, his only option is to listen to his jailers Micaela, played by Terri Mims, and her father Justin, Michael Cochran, in order to understand the situation he has stumbled into.

The set is designed so that the audience is also enclosed in this outlandish place.

"The audience will go through exactly what I go through," Miller said. "They are enveloped in the labyrinth."

The blankets that make up the web of no escape not only cover the air above the heads of the actors, but also line the very walls and ceiling of the theatre.

"It's like a different world in a completely different theatre," Douglas said.

The set, designed by UT theatre major Frankie Teuber, along with video elements projected on the sheets themselves, designed by UT film major Meg Sciarini, cause the viewers to get lost in the same realm that is unfolding before them. Add in the soundscape accompaniments of UT assistant professor of music Jonathan Ovalle and sound designer Sal Simione, and it is a wonder that the audience doesn't get lost in the maze too.

"It's just fun and bizarre," said the production's director Edmund B. Lingan. "The labyrinth can be thought of as any system (political, social, educational, religious, etc.) that operates with more concern for control and order than for human needs. On some level, everyone can identify with Etienne's predicament."

In fact, this strange land is based on real world experiences that playwright Fernando Arrabal went through.

When he wrote "The Labyrinth" in 1961, he was living in exile under the government of Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain. Arrabal's father was killed while escaping the corrupt government system, urging him to write the play in order to "[paint] a portrait of government oppression, including ridiculous legal policies, kangaroo courts, and bodily humiliation," said Angela Riddel of UT's Departments for Theatre & Film, Music and Art in a press release.

The production will be held in the Center Theatre of the UT Center for Performing Arts on the Main Campus starting this weekend. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday performances which are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $13 for the general public, $11 for UT faculty, staff, alumni and seniors, and $9 for students. A group discount of 15 percent off is available on orders of eight tickets or more.

Audiences should also be aware that the content of the play is not intended for children and the video elements do contain elements of nudity while the live portions themselves do not. The feature contains strong adult themes so discretion is advised.

"Everybody should come see this show," Mims said. "We promise it will be an experience they will never forget."

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