The Night I Left the Theater with a Full Stomach & Mind

By Abrahim Harb

After watching the Stage Center Theatre Kristin Hunt directed version of "Miss Julie" by August Strindberg, I felt alienation (also known as verfremdungseffekt). I wasn’t sure what I just experienced, but not because it was a terrible production; because it had immersed me in this experience of watching a play and having these feelings, that were heightened by food, song, eroticism (within the play) and queer theatre. Alienation is achieved by making the audience feel detached from the action of the play, so they do not become immersed in the fictional reality of the stage due to these four reasons in the Stage Center Theatre production of Miss Julie: the three chorus members, the songs they perform, the minimalistic set and the food.

The three chorus members (which I loosely classify as a Greek Chorus) sporadically sang songs accompanied by a guitar and piano, bring the audience out of the world of the show to remind the audience it is only a play. The set is very minimalistic, the only two things to adorn the stage are a doorway and a kitchen table (there is also seating on stage, but that is another story). Lastly, the use of food, as a technique to heighten the emotion of the scene, in addition to once again, reminding the audience, they are only watching a show. “Food AND theatre?” I thought to myself when I heard about it. Then afterward, I said, “MMMH! finger lickin’ theatre”. It is meant to entice you through your taste buds to further understand the emotion of the scene, without bringing you into the physical action.

However, the production does not flood the theater with bright lights, the actors do play multiple characters, and placards aren’t used to summarize action and the actors did not rearrange the set in full view of the audience. The actors do break the fourth wall by speaking to the audience, in the form of monologues, meant to function as a narrator. All of these elements combined was meant to create a production that wasn’t cluttered with many sub-plots in addition to attacking your senses and bombarding your brain with thoughts. My opinion: successfully inappropriate. That was the night I left the theater, with a full stomach, instead of a gurgling one.