Promotional image of the cast rioting in their theatre seatsIt’s citizen versus everything in this totally original, entirely reimagined adaptation of Alfred Jarry’s classic avant-garde satire Ubu Rex. Grotesque, ridiculous and deeply profound, this irreverent adaptation of Ubu Rex draws from a huge range of source material to amplify the messages from Jarry’s original narrative. The live show is multimedia in every respect, with Ubu Sux also being live-streamed to devices all over the world including this year’s Melbourne Fringe, one of a huge number of arts’ festivals to adapt to 2020’s restrictions on physical gatherings and embrace digital delivery.

Director Paula van Beek says that the Whitireia Stage & Screen students are loving the chance to explore working with technologies that look set to become commonplace in the future. “How we’re manipulated to hear, believe and pay attention to people in positions of power is at the heart of Ubu Sux. The show asks some hard questions about ‘the economy of influence’ and the effect it is having on young people all over the world. This new adaptation aims to dissolve some of the unconscious bias that’s templated into decisions about which stories get told. When I initially took a translation of Ubu Rex to the company, they articulated some really clear concerns about what it would mean to choose a play that gives a revolting character like Pa Ubu so much limelight. And that was a really exciting moment. Even though Jarry’s Ubu plays are satirical, the students pointed out that airtime is still airtime –  even if you are poking fun.  We decided to explore how Pa Ubu could be muted, side-lined or ignored to allow the other characters in the play to have a chance to speak and tell their stories. We wanted lots of different perspectives represented.

The cast and crew are excited to explore different points of view – not only of the characters but also of how audiences can see the work, whether that’s in the theatre, or through screen. van Beek says “We can’t wait to bring these new characters, new perspectives and brand-new original songs to life for other people. They could be in the room with us, at home watching online, or in the cinema at Te Auaha seeing the show beam in from next door to the big screen… we’ll know they’re there and feel the connection. I wonder how different their experiences will be?

  • Ubu sux on at Te Auaha, 17-19 November 2020