Playing French Seattle, a UW student organization, is presenting two plays and two staged readings of work by José Pliya — in French. But never fear, English supertitles will make it all clear. The performances begin Thursday, Oct. 23, and run through Sunday, Nov. 2, at the Ethnic Cultural Theater.
Pliya is a writer whose poetic visions boldly address racial, sexual and post-colonialist issues, making him one of theater’s most edgy and relevant voices. These productions are Seattle premieres of the work. And Pliya himself is coming from his home in Guadeloupe to deliver a keynote address and participate in a public forum.
Student and producer Tom Ansart is fascinated by Pliya’s work, saying, “It begins with a rational premise, takes a strange turn and somehow ends up where it started. It’s easier to ascertain what it is not. It’s not surreal, farcical or absurd; it’s all that and more.”
The festival begins with Complexe de Thénardier. A young woman, being held captive in an occupied country, meets a soldier with blue hair from Dakota. The Thénardier were the diabolical family in Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, and Pliya has from them created a metaphor to explain the Balkan and other contemporary conflicts. Directed by Joseph Lavy and playing at 8 p.m. Oct. 23, 25 and Nov. 1, and at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 30 and Nov. 2.
In Les Effracteurs, two burglars enter an unlocked house to discover two other burglars, calling themselves Bonie and Clive, who invite them to dinner. Love and strange memories destroy the dinner-party. Directed by David Garfinkle and playing at 8 p.m. Oct. 24, 26, 30 and Nov. 1 and 2, at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 31 and at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 1.
In the staged reading Cannibales, a desperate woman approaches two others: she can’t find her infant daughter. But the others do not behave in the way you might expect, and Pliya explores the nature of desire. Playing at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 24-26 and 31, and at 2 p.m. Nov. 2.
In the second reading, Nous Etions Assis Sur le Rivage du Monde, a woman returns to a beach of her childhood and encounters a man who tells her she is not welcome because of the color of her skin. Playing at 7 p.m. Oct. 27-29 and 11 a.m. Nov. 1.
On Friday Oct. 31 after Cannibales, Pliya will give a talk titled Finding a Language to Explain the World.
Tickets $15 per show ($7.50 student/senior price) or $25 for a festival pass, and are available before the show or through www.brownpapertickets.org event #42845. More information and updates at www.steeplechaseproductions.com. The staged reading of Nous Etions Assis Sur le Rivage du Monde is free.