The story of Marie Antoinette, like the French Revolution it takes place in, is very tragic and violent. This goes without saying. UAA’s Theatre Department, however, wants to look at her story in a more psychological light.
Their upcoming production of “Marie Antoinette” uses expressionism and surrealism to explore Marie’s character. It shows her unhinging even before she gets brutally killed.
“Expressionism tells the story through the eyes of the protagonist, Marie, which allows the audience to care about her journey and parallel her rise and fall of power to the celebrities of today,” said Nova Cunningham, assistant professor of theatre and the director of the show.
The show was proposed for the 2015 season by Colleen Metzger, another professor of theatre who specializes in costume design. She shared a passion for both the French Revolution and Marie herself, being the “Queen of Fashion” that she’s known for.
“It is exciting to be able to show off Colleen’s fashion expertise and talent in a production that showcases the lead as a confection created by society,” said Cunningham.
The extravagant costume design is complimented by the uncanny scenery and unpleasant atmosphere to create an experience that some working on the show have called surreal.
“It’s a psychological take on Marie Antoinette that actually slips into the nightmarish part of her world before she gets her head cut off at the end. It’s horrific,” said Michael Noble, a student working wardrobe for the show. “It’s not just tragic or sad, or grand. There’s a lot of terror in this take on it. It gets a little surreal too as she goes more insane from the pressures of being an unwanted queen in a France that’s about to change irrecoverably.”
Emily Pratt, who will be playing Marie for the show, agrees.
“If you come to this show thinking it’s going to be a bland historical drama about the life and retelling of Marie Antoinette, you will be incredibly surprised,” said Pratt. “If you’re not prepared for it, it’ll be a total shocker.”
While it is a challenging production, the show is supported by a very strong production team. Everyone from the crew to the actors themselves have helped make the production a visually and narratively intriguing one.
“From concept to build, the collaboration of designers, crew members and actors have all had input in this production,” said Cunningham. “Each added elements to help tell the story.”
Those who want a more striking and ominous look into the psyche of the “Marie Antoinette” will find something to enjoy with this production. From the strange scenic design, to the lavish costumes, to the strange talent, it’s an oddball look into a story that was already pretty gruesome to begin with.
“Marie Antoinette” is showing in the Mainstage Theatre in the Arts Building from November 20 – 29. Performances are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 3 PM. Tickets are available at the door or at uaatix.com.