CFA Arts Administration Intern Chloe Jones ’15 talks to Lily Whitsitt '06 about directing the Theater Department production of Slawomir Mrozek's "Vatzlav" on Thursday, April 10 and Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8pm; and Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 2pm and 8pm, in the CFA Theater, in this entry from the Center for the Arts blog.
The set takes its inspiration from circus design and
transforms the stage into a jungle gym of raised wooden platforms.
Audience members sit on stage with the actors, an invitation to join in
the play’s 77 quick and episodic scenes.
Vatzlav draws from 18th-century French philosophical tales such as Voltaire’s Candide and the Marquis de Sade’s Justine
to tell a story that is both profoundly political and positively
hilarious. It’s a farcical, fall-out-of-your-chair-laughing kind of
The work itself has a political history. Mr. Mrozek wrote Vatzlav in
1968, shortly after he fled Poland and sought political asylum in
France. Due to strict censorship laws, the play did not appear in Poland
until nearly a decade later.
Vatzlav reflects the life of
its exiled playwright, a man writing far from home and in the midst of
great political turmoil. “It’s complete satire,” says Ms. Whitsitt.
“He takes an axe to every political ideology.”
With a cast of
seven Wesleyan students, each character in the play embodies a different
political ideology. Together they run the whole gamut of political
philosophy and bring myriad perspectives into a witty and engaging
The play delves into global questions related to power
and authority, belief and hypocrisy, progress and modernity. It also
considers deeply personal dilemmas.
“It’s about those moments of
choice that we all face,” explains Ms. Whitsitt. “Those moments when you
have to confront your own ideals and beliefs.”
It’s a story about
growing up — Vatzlav arrives on the remote island shipwrecked and in
search of himself, looking for a new life and identity. The zany
inhabitants of the island and the trials he faces there incite him to
question and come to terms with his own beliefs.
recalls grappling with many of her own beliefs as a student at Wesleyan,
giving her reason to believe that the play would resonate with the
students involved in the production and those in the audience.
wanted the students to be engaging with these types of questions,”
explains Ms. Whitsitt. “For me, as a director, it’s such a personal
process for each performer.”
Operating on both a global and a personal level, Vatzlav
is a politically charged play about the choices we make as
individuals. “At its base it’s about investigating humanity,” reflects
Vatzlav by Slawomir Mrozek
Directed by Lily Whitsitt '06
Presented by the Theater Department
Thursday, April 10 & Friday, April 11, 2014 at 8pm
Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 2pm & 8pm
$8 general public; $5 senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff/alumni, non-Wesleyan students; $4 Wesleyan students
Please note that this play contains adult themes and language that may not be appropriate for children.