This is an archived article.

February 22, 2007

UW School of Drama captures the chaos after a revolution in Mad Forest

The UW School of Drama will present Caryl Churchill’s, Mad Forest, directed by Scott Hafso, Feb. 25 through March 11 in the Penthouse Theatre. The play features undergraduate actors.


The play was written in the aftermath of the violent overthrow of communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu on Christmas Day in 1989. He and his wife Elena Ceausescu were ousted and executed. The executions were filmed and TV clips were shown shortly afterward to a national television audience.


Three months later, British playwright Caryl Churchill (well known for her highly satirical, political works such as Cloud 9, Top Girls, and The Skriker) went to Bucharest with a group of students from the London School of Drama to see first-hand a society still groping its way forward through the chaotic aftermath of revolution. Their aim was to observe a nation in post-revolutionary turmoil and to make a play about what they saw.


Mad Forest was the result, receiving its world premiere at Bucharest’s National Theatre in 1990. Churchill’s kaleidoscopic portrait of this extraordinary chapter in world history combines a fictional storyline with actual eyewitness accounts of the revolution and paints a world in which sudden freedom is both intoxicating and terrifying.


The play depicts two families enduring the oppression of Ceausescu’s regime. It captures their experiences in the revolution as well as the aftermath of political confusion that the people of Romania have endured and continue to endure today.


As seen through the eyes of ordinary Romanian citizens (and a few less ordinary characters, including an angel, a vampire and a talking dog), the play brings to life a struggle to survive in a country where the walls are listening, the secret police are everywhere, and anywhere seems better than where they are. But when the government is overthrown and political and cultural restraints suddenly disappear, long-buried rivalries and racial prejudices come bubbling to the surface. We begin to see that the reality of freedom is more complicated than the fantasy.


Tickets and information are available by calling 206-543-4880 and online at http://depts.washington.edu/uwdrama. Tickets for previews are $8; prices for all other performances are $15 for adults; seniors, $12; UW employees, $13. Students from any school with current ID pay $10. Evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. The UW Arts Ticket Office is located at 4001 University Way NE and is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.