DIE: ROLL TO PROCEED
Director's Notes on creating Theater of the Absurd
By Christian De Gré
“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” — G. K. Chesterton
The greatest theater of the absurd is not the one that simply illustrates the ridiculous nature of man, nor is it the one that just pits odd-ball characters against unrealistic circumstances for the sake of humor. Rather, it is the one that through the use of satire, farce, burlesque, clowning, and surrealism comments on issues greater than itself, the one that illustrates some hidden meaning that we don’t immediately recognize. As we sit and laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of what we are witnessing, we are unaware that there are multiple layers bubbling underneath, that we are connecting to the weird in an unconscious way and are being moved by hidden forces working their surreal magic under a superficial exterior.
This is what DIE: Roll to Proceed is about. In the vein of Shockheaded Peter, The Royal Tenenbaums, Nightmare Before Christmas, the majority of Christopher Durang’s work, and even Family Guy, we lead you through a series of misadventures that might read simply as ridiculous and hilarious on a surface level. But ask yourself, do we not often use laughter to mask our deepest fears? DIE invites us to dig deeper, past the poop jokes and the drag landladies, to peer into the lives of six people trapped in a contemporary world of unfortunate circumstance. Here we glimpse people who are so unloved by the society around them that they turn to their animals for their only comfort; people with such childhood trauma that they have no option but to distract themselves with the world of comic book fantasy and board games where the lines bleed between reality and the escape; people living in relationships who, through years of miscommunication, develop self-defense mechanisms that only drive them further apart and into an excruciatingly long game of power-play chess; people so deeply obsessed with past mistakes, guilt, self-pity, and regret that they can no longer perform.
DIE is about that moment we’ve all experienced of being pushed into a corner by the forces around us with no easy way out. It’s about the choices we make when we are forced into said corner and the instantaneous realization that we must do something, anything, as life cannot stand still. How do we react? Do we succumb to our misery? Do we look for ways to escape it? Do we accept our reasons for being there in the first place and resign ourselves to a life of repentance? Or do we, as George does, abandon all responsibility and leave our fate to the gods. How often do we seek a higher force to save us from ourselves? Could it be possible that it is just a mere convenience to blame our actions on a higher power?
Tonight I ask you to look past the “funny”—past cartoon props that might falsely make you feel safe as you rekindle memories of a simpler childhood past; past plasma rifles, ghost rats, torturing aliens, and goat syphilis. I challenge you to look at your own choices in life and the powers that have influenced them. Ask yourself what roles do religion, law, relationships, government, the American dream, love, loss, friendship, fate, death, choice, and destiny play in your own life? Are you really Master of your own destiny, or is your life simply following the path pre-determined by the universe at your birth? Is it really all up to you, or is your life just a game of happenstance randomly decided by the great old Die?
But worry no more for the time being. Put your troubles aside, for tonight you can at least feel what it’s like to be the power of Fate. Tonight you get to relish in the sheer pleasure of making someone else’s choices for them with no consequences whatsoever to yourself. Our characters tonight rely on you to decide their destiny. So cast off the pressures of your own life choices and play someone else’s game. Tonight it’s their fate… your hands… Roll the Die.
“Fate leads the willing, and drags along the reluctant.” — Lucius A. Seneca
—Christian De Gré
President & Artistic Director
Mind The Art Entertainment
DIE: ROLL TO PROCEED IS PLAYING AT THE RED ROOM UNTIL OCTOBER 2012