An airport waiting lounge probably
isn't the first place that leaps to mind when compiling
a list of ideal spots for staging a play. But it's sure
to appeal to any commuter with a fresh memory of having
wasted valuable life minutes equal to the entire running
length of "Les Miserables" near a boarding gate.
"Traveling from Germany to here ... I've spent a lot
of time waiting in the lounges of international
airports," said Markus Wessendorf. "And I've always kind
of fantasized about how great it would be if (airports)
offered not just a VIP or business lounge, but also a
theater lounge where you could watch productions."
Wessendorf, a University of Hawai'i-Manoa theater
professor, has channeled that fantasy (and then some)
into a contemporary staging of German dramatist
Friedrich Schiller's landmark 1781 play "The Robbers."
Under Wessendorf's direction, the politically violent
drama of two rebellious brothers in 18th-century Germany
is staged as a straight-on performance by an acting
troupe waiting for a flight in a raucous post-9/11
airport lounge. The audience is asked to imagine
themselves as commuters watching the play while waiting
for the same flight.
|'The Robbers' |
8 p.m. today,
Saturday and May 1-3; 2 p.m. May 4
Theatre, University of Hawai'i-Manoa
general, $10 seniors, military, faculty, staff, $8
non-UH-Manoa students, $3 UHM students with ID
"People have a very special relationship (with)
flying and airports now," said Wessendorf. "After Sept.
11, no one feels safe anymore. We're now living in a
society where surveillance, or the notion of the
security check, has become increasingly prevalent. Your
civil liberties are no longer as guaranteed as they were
before. And the airport is probably the first
environment that comes to mind — the most evident
environment — where those changes have been
To set the required mood of anxiety, audience members
entering Kennedy Theatre (renamed Kennedy Airport) will
be escorted through faux metal detectors before finding
their seats. On stage, actors will be screened in full
view of the audience by security staff as they move from
a waiting lounge area into a performance area, and
stripped of questionable prop weapons.
|Annie Lipscomb and Blake Kushi perform in
"The Robbers." Director Markus Wessendorf asks the
audience to imagine they are commuters waiting for
Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu
"There's one scene where someone has to strangle
someone else with dental floss, where in the original
play that person would've shot the other person," said
Events are a bit more extreme than, say, an average
day at Honolulu International — gunshots are often heard
off stage, and the National Guard and FBI occasionally
interrupt the performance. But Wessendorf insisted there
was a method to his on-stage madness.
"I didn't want to entertain the audience with a play
that was critical of political violence, (have them) pat
themselves on the shoulder for seeing it, and then walk
home," said Wessendorf. "There should be a sense of
uneasiness. ... And that's really to make them think —
to make them aware of an uneasiness that they may also
feel in their daily life that they suppress."