Woyzeck (VOY-check): Transformation, a tragic and unique play, is the second production of Fort Hays State University's theatre season. Scheduled to run Nov. 13-16, the experimental project is intended for mature audiences.
The original work, titled Woyzeck, written by Georg Buchner in the 1830's, is considered by many to be the first modern tragedy, according to Director Michael Hogwood, instructor of communication.
The piece is based on the life story of Johann Christian Woyzeck and his descent into madness. He was accused of murdering his mistress out of maddening jealousy. The case lasted for years due to the argument of the defense: Woyzeck was mentally unstable at the time of the murder.
Although Buchner was only a child when the case was playing out, he was inspired by the public frenzy it caused in Germany, where the crime was committed. Buchner, who died unexpectedly at the age of 23, did not live to see the impact of his play.
The work was found after Buchner's death in a drawer, unfinished and unstructured. After intense interpretation of the scattered series of short scenes, many experts were forced to guess on their final order, which changes depending on the translator, theorist or adaptor who interprets the work.
For FHSU's production, Hogwood has created his own version of Woyzeck, rewriting the scenes while staying true to the original format of more than 20 short scenes.
Hogwood said the play is timeless -- it has been almost 200 years since the original was written. "Looking at the news and entertainment of today," he said, "it boggles my mind to see how little progress has been made."
"This play is violent and cruel, but not in a way that celebrates that violence. Instead, it attempts to bring it out in the open to allow us to talk about it and learn from it," Hogwood said. The play is intended to be "challenging, thought-provoking and entertaining."
The 21-member cast and other students involved have rallied behind the production and are taking ownership of it. Hogwood said he is excited about the reality of his two-year personal investment in the play and the way the students have embraced the idea of doing something different.
Shelly Wolf, Woyzeck cast member, is pleased with the production. "The show is very unique in that everything we do is not reality," she said. "Some things will be difficult for the audience to understand right away. However, the show definitely makes you think, and hopefully the audience will appreciate that."
The show will run from Nov. 13-16 at 8 p.m. nightly in Malloy Hall's Felten-Start Theatre. A special late showing is scheduled for 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 14. General seating and tickets will be available at the door.