Dege Legg

Absurdism vs. UL

by Dege Legg

The Milena Theatre Group of UL premieres the first and only local production celebrating the awkward life of the absurdist Urmuz...

Absurdism is a philosophy and literary doctrine stating that the efforts of humanity to find meaning ultimately fail (and, hence, are absurd) because no such meaning exists in an essentially irrational world. Romania may be known for Count Dracula, but it was also home to some pretty impressive creative folks. Born in 1883, the Romanian Absurdist writer known as “Urmuz” (Demetru Dem. Demetrescu-Buzau) began his writing career by mocking the clichés of contemporary prose for the benefit of close friends and family. Urmuz’s nutty “anti-prose” relied heavily on sophisticated puns using the double meanings of many Romanian words. In addition, he was kind of a Dada-type as well, exploring everyday sameness through bizarre and random events. Committing suicide in 1923, the man known as Urmuz gave no reason for his gesture, instead choosing to go out like a true Absurdist, “without any cause” or explanation. The Milena Theatre Group of UL premieres the first and only local production celebrating the awkward life, strange death, and extraordinary work of the absurdist Urmuz. URMUZ, the play, opens and closes on Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. at the Fletcher Auditorium on UL campus. Directed by Dayana Stetco, assistant Professor of English at UL and joined by Seth Johnson, Mike Berntsen, and veteran artist, Conni Castille, this promises to be an interesting evening. “I’ve always wanted to adapt Urmuz’s stories for the stage,” says Stetco. “He’s one of the most interesting avant-garde Romanian writers, a cross between Kafka and Jarry. His characters are mostly exiles — people incapable of normal relationships, living in underground spaces, fond of their pet badgers, in love with inanimate objects, pathetic in their impossible quests … and yet somehow very funny.” Be there to bear witness. Mature audiences only. Suggested donation is $5.

Word Association with Dayana Stetco (Director and UL assistant Professor of English):

1.  Artaud                     Total theatre. Mine.
2.  Bukowski                 The dream at the end of the world.
3.  Anaïs Nin                 Sense and Sensuality.
4.  Rimbaud                  The green pillars of Absinthe…
5.  Codrescu                  Body bags.
6.  Céline                       The end of the night protects me.
7.  Lorca                         For the love of insects.
8.  Macondo/Marquez   A thousand yellow butterflies…
9.  Jean Genet              Once a thief…
10. Ceausescu              Do we have to, really?