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Profound Piffle: “The Bald Soprano Review”

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If a dog did meatloaf, would all of the Antarctic diseases in the fireplace understand why pianos die when the newspaper sings unhealthy minivans? No…noodles do not agree with the concept of winters in yellow.

Confused? 

Yeah, so was I as I watched Drake’s student production of the absurdist French play, “The Bald Soprano.”

To clarify — I know nothing about theater. Prior to last Sunday, I had never heard of the “theater of the absurd” genre, which is apparently a genre of plays that use incomprehensible dialogue to comment on what would happen if/when our human existence and communication lacked meaning.

If you aren’t sure what all of that means, go re-read the first sentence of this article. Now, imagine sitting in a cushy FAC theater seat and listening to a group of your peers speak similar gibberish to each other on a stage for an hour and a half.

That was “The Bald Soprano” in a nutshell.

Although the play itself made absolutely no sense, and I will get more into that in a moment, I must say — the student cast did a phenomenal job.

The play only had six characters: two sets of married couples (one of which pretended not to know each other for a solid 20 minutes), a maid and her lover, the fire chief. Although none of the characters spoke in comprehensible sentences, each one of them made me genuinely laugh just by the WAY they performed their nonsense.

Honestly, I think it is a testament to these students’ talent that they were able to be funny, likable and entertaining despite speaking lines that had no meaning.

In fact, throughout the whole play, I kept thinking to myself…How did these guys memorize all these random lines? I imagine it’s hard enough to memorize dialogue with real sentences, let alone a sequence of random words performed in a range of random inflections.

Also throughout the entire play, I kept waiting for their lines to start making sense. I felt so tense the whole time…my mind was working overtime to try and fit the random words I was hearing into some kind of order, storyline or purpose.

I think that is a fascinating sensation that we humans experience, a fight to make confusing things make sense. It occurred to me on my walk home that this concept may have been the author’s “theme” in writing such a nonsensical work of “art.”

Upon further research, however, the play’s author Eugène Ionesco has left the ultimate meaning of his work up to interpretation. Some speculate the play exposes the uselessness of meaningful communication in modern society; others think it parodies humans’ constant desire to be heard despite having nothing important to say. 

All Ionesco has said about the ultimate meaning is that he “had no intention of parody, but if he were parodying anything, it would be everything.”

MY question is…if this play had no real plot, no real dialogue and no intended theme…do we really get to label that art? 

“BOO, this girl is just some troll that hates the arts!” NO – I am literally a music minor here at Drake, and I have been a musician since I was three years old. I don’t just value the arts…the arts are literally a crucial part of my life!

 But come on, there has got to be a line somewhere.

You’re telling me I could just write an hour and a half’s worth of complete garbage and some talented group of college theater kids will waste their time performing it, yelling gibberish at each other on stage simply because I decided my garbage was art?

That just seems like some elaborate practical joke that, thankfully for theater kids across the country, I do not have time to orchestrate.

All-in-all, despite my feeling that I got ripped off as far as content goes, I am thankful that Drake’s student actors and actresses are so naturally entertaining. Otherwise, I’d have likely gotten up and left.

Now I know that next time I have an opportunity to see an “absurdist” play, I might as well save my money and read a dictionary and ponder its uselessness.

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