Theatre and Dance Department presents “All that I have Lost: War in Poetry, Prose and Theatre”
The stage is dimly lit and bare. The only props are fourteen chairs arranged in columns of seven each, facing each other.
The lights go off, and from the darkness emerges a chorus of fourteen voices reciting a selection from Homer’s “Iliad.” So begins the CU theatre department’s first production of the year, “All That I Have Lost: War in Poetry, Prose and Theatre.”
The production is a medley of nearly 70 poems, prose pieces and theatre selections, interwoven into a complex collage that explores man’s experience of war through the ages.
“It has a chronological sense, but it’s not strictly chronological,” said Lynn Nichols, who directed the production. “It’s put together thematically, tonally and rhythmically.”
All 14 actors – seven men and seven women – are on the stage throughout the entire performance. They take turns reciting the selections, sometimes alone, sometimes as a small group and sometimes all together in a resounding chorus.
“We want the focus to be on the words, with minimal costumes and simple lighting,” Nichols said.
The production, which Nichols said has been three years in the making, includes selections from the “Iliad” to current-day Baghdad. The idea began when Nichols and Ray Kemble, who “devised” the production, began compiling a list of war-themed poetry.
The current war in Iraq, Nichols said, was the impetus for this project, although he said it’s not trying to make an outright statement about the Iraq war.
“That’s been the major question, is it an anti-war piece? The answer is no, it’s not anti-war,” Nichols said. “It’s about the experience of war. You’re always drawn to make political statements, but we chose to leave it more purely as a work of art.”
Student reactions were generally positive.
“It was very powerful. Very in-your-face,” said Danielle Brady, a freshman pre-journalism major.
“They portrayed it really well. They made war sound bad. I guess they did their job,” said Jadd Tank, a freshman international affairs major.
Nichols, who is also the general manager of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival, said he expects people to have varying reactions to the performance.
“We’re not encouraging a simplistic view of war,” he said. “We’re acknowledging the extreme complexity of war. We want to deepen an individual’s desire to contemplate the current situation and the whole concept of war.”
“All That I Have Lost: War In Poetry, Prose and Theatre” will be performed on Oct. 11-14, at 8 p.m. on the University Theatre main stage. Tickets are $12 for CU students and $15 for the general public.
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