Eugene Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano
The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium
Sunday, September 24
The collapse of reality, a tragedy of language: classic absurdism freshly conceived! Ionesco awash in a world gone awry—causality means nothing, numbers don’t add up, names have no validity, existence is surreal. A comedy for our time, at Bethany Mission Gallery, the ultimate evening of Idiopathic outsider art!
$15–$25 / 65 minutes
Founded in 2006, the The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium (IRC) is the only company in the nation dedicated solely to the production, preservation and study of absurdist drama. The IRC’s mission and signature style has repeatedly earned the company the title “absurdist masters.”
The Bald Soprano/Bethany Mission is the next installment in a string of fresh interpretations of classic absurdist dramatic works including sold-out Philadelphia Fringe productions of Eugene Ionesco’s The Chairs (2016), Exit the King (2015), Rhinoceros (2014), The Chairs (2009); plus Franz Kafka’s The Castle (2013) and Witold Gombrowicz’s Ivona: Princess of Burgundia (2012).
Performers helming the production are IRC Founders Tina Brock and Bob Schmidt, plus long time IRC collaborator Tomas Dura, along with Philadelphia favorites Sonja Robson, John Zak, and Arlen Hancock. IRC producing artistic director Tina Brock directs and design sound for The Bald Soprano. The production design team includes IRC associate artistic director Erica Hoelscher, who designed the set and costumes.
Martin Esslin—drama critic, professor and author of The Theater of the Absurd—codified a group of experimental playwrights in the mid-20th century possessing a tragicomic view of what he termed ”a world gone mad.” His invention of the term Theater of the Absurd certified his position as one of the most influential critics of the second half of the 20th century. He writes in his seminal book: “. . . the Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy. It aims to knock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation. The challenge behind the message is anything but one of despair. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions leaves behind a sense of freedom and relief. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation.”
American absurdist playwright Edward Albee defined the Theater of the Absurd as “an absorption-in-art of certain existentialist and post-existentialist philosophical concepts, related to man’s attempts to make sense of his senseless position in a world which makes no sense—which makes no sense because the moral, religious, political, and social structures man has erected to ‘illusion’ himself have collapsed.” Theatrically, absurd drama is related to the movements of Dadaism and surrealism, whose works searched for meaning amidst the tumult, “a theatre which experiments beyond the realm of day-today occupations.” The absurdist theatrical experience attempts to dislocate the audience from a mechanical and complacent existence.
The Bald Soprano will unfold amidst the works at The Bethany Mission Gallery, home to over two hundred works of art including drawings, paintings, object collections, folk art, Catalin radios, antique metal toys, banks, milk glass, ceramic pot lids, posters, signage, photographs, and antique toasters. The Gallery will be open one hour prior and one hour following The Bald Soprano for the duration of the run. Arrive early and immerse yourself in two floors of outsider art, including Eugene Ionesco’s classic absurdist anti-play!
Pictured: John Zak, Sonja Robson, Tomas Dura, Bob Schmidt, Tina Brock, Arlen Hancock
Credit: Johanna Austin @ AustinArt.org