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Divorce-featured non-white actors in a majority of roles. And each of these plays as well as the two second-stage productions, Bill Irwin's contemporary adaptation of The Three Cuckolds and William Hauptman's play Gillette directed by McAnuff, sought to combat the increasing insularity of American culture by making connections to other times and other societies. After only four years of operation, the La Jolla Playhouse has become an institution in American theatre rivalled only by Robert Brustein's American Repertory Theatre in its intellectual and artistic leadership . Crime and Punishment Adapted from the novel and directed by Andrzej Wajda Stary Theatre/PepsiCo Summerfare (Purchase, N.Y.) The Robbers Friedrich Schiller Directed by Alfred Kirchner Bochum Schauspielhaus/PepsiCo Summerfare (Purchase, N.Y.) Cosi fan tutte Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte/Music by W. A. Mozart Directed by Peter Sellars/Conducted by Craig Smith PepsiCo Summerfare (Purchase, N.Y.) Marc Robinson At the end of the Stary Theatre's Crime and Punishment Raskolnikov addressed the audience as a lawyer would address a jury, describing with apparent indifference his murder of the pawnbroker and her sister. With the same exactness that generates Dostoyevsky's narrative, he lifts the hatchet , some jewelry, and the purse of money out of a long display case and methodically explains their significance. This demonstration is the most explicit display of the clinical technique Wajda employs throughout his Crime and Punishment. He approaches Crime and Punishment with the eye of a draughtsman and illuminates the architecture of the novel's psychological conflicts. He clarifies the psychology by concentrating on its structure, allowing us to perceive the mechanics of his characters' mental processes. Thought and emotion are no longer vague, abstract entities: by revealing their shape with language and tracking their progress with an actor 's movement, Wajda makes them visible. Wajda reduces Crime and Punishment to its essentials-concentrating on the central conflict between Raskolnikov, the criminal, and Porfiry, the court-investigator. After jettisoning Raskolnikov's family and restricting the 72 functions of the other characters, Wajda is able to scrutinize the relationship between the pursued and the pursuer. He fills most of this production with long scenes between the two men, conducting a scientific analysis of their conflict that transcends mere representation. The acting technique and Wajda's use of Krystyna Zachwatowicz's scenography embody this analysis. Jerzy Radziwilowicz and Jerzy Stuhr position their characters in the crux between mental and physical action. Radziwilowicz's Rasknolnikov is compulsively verbal, prey to seizures of language that often leave his mouth silently shaping words after the sound of his voice has faded. He depicts Raskolnikov's frenzy with the same precision that informs the entire production: as Raskolnikov rapidly spins out his theories or bursts forth with accusations or defenses, his body maintains a slow, monitored gait, traveling a known path, his limbs and head moving in regular and trained ways. As he speaks, his arms describe the same arcs, his fingers run rhythmically through his hair, his feet count paces. Raskolnikov accompanies each speech with variations on the same choreography, the same tics-harnessing the velocity of thought with the grounded composure of the body. Stuhr structures Porfiry's conduct in reverse. His speech is prosaic-managing to display the professional cool of the attorney-but periodically his body falls into uncontrollable spasms. At several points, what begins as slight laughter Porfiry can't control from devolving into a fit of gagging, spitting, and gasping for air. In his case, the body discloses the uncertainty and tension the mind tries to conceal. Wajda 's production is almost all words-with language filling most of the stage's cramped space-and the acting technique makes the force of that language visible. The actors physicalize their characters' intellect, while demonstrating the intellectual rationale behind their physical actions. Wajda 's actors treat language as gesture. Wajda uses the scenography to make the structural approach even more concrete. For the first half of the play, Zachwatowicz has designed a cluster of rooms inside a tiny stage space. The stage houses six distinct rooms, or parts of rooms, including one completely surrounded by all four walls, with windows enabling us...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 72-81
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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