A dim blue light fades in, revealing five actors who are standing center stage as a unit with fear stricken faces. They breathe together as if they are one organism. They look straight ahead with anticipation. The audience’s faces reflect the emotion right back.
“One. Two. Breath”
These opening lines of University of Denver’s production of Exiled immediately captured its audience just before luring them into the abstract world in which the play came to life. DU’s department of theater produced and performed this show as a part of their fall lineup. The show opened on October 13th and ran through October 23rd. The cast of five university students included Mikah Conway, Sam Pargament, Wren Schuyler, Katie Walker, and Rosa Wariner. The show was directed by Lawrence Curry.
Curry describes how the show “began as a hunch, with regards to the idea of connection and disconnection since the beginning of time”.
If this theme seems difficult to grasp, then it is a perfect emulation of the show that it represents. The forty minute show has no narrator, no tradition script, and little scenic development. What is called a “devised piece” is created solely by the player’s own thoughts, ideas, and emotions.
The story line of this show is never clear. There is no narrator directing the story. Often there were five different things happening at once. At any moment, you as the audience member may feel uneasiness, strong passion, or just strait confusion. But that is exactly how you’re supposed to feel.
“We expect some confusion,” says Conway. “There’s a lot of abstractness in the show and it changes every night”.
Trying to capture an audience with a show like this is extremely difficult. The chaos makes it very easy for an audience member to give up and tune out. However, the five student actors’ superb performance made the show. They were able to conduct the audience as if they were an orchestra. They tell them where to pay attention by their positioning or the volume of their voice. The characters give just enough emotion as they want to receive.
The show is created by its characters. A narcoleptic therapist balances her occupation with her place in the digital world. A late night news anchor tries to get his big break while battling his own fears. A Syrian refugee is exiled from her war stricken home. A social media professional drives the age of digitization. These characters and their stories however are never assured and they are certainly never explicit.
“Nothing in this show is defined.” Says Walker “None of our characters are ever defined”.
While you may walk out of the theatre not knowing exactly what just happened or what is meant, you feel as if you have gained something in some way. You feel as if you had just returned home from some great emotional journey.
“One of the beautiful things about this show is that you can take your own interpretation and go home with that”
Beyond its confusion, the play evoked passion in its purest form.