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Woyzeck Review by: Brett Briggeman

Last Saturday, Hardin-Simmons University’s theater students put on a student-directed theater production, Woyzeck.

This Director’s Cut allowed an insight into the process of making theater. Woyzeck, a play by Georg Büchner from the 1830s, follows the life of a tortured soul named Woyzeck and the people around him. Lauren Railey, the student director, writes that the play emphasizes. "the importance of our humanity, the journey of Christianity, the concept of nurture versus nature, but most importantly, it shines a light on the notion that life isn't always pretty."

 She also writes that the play is "raw, violent and jarring for the audience." Büchner died early, never finishing this play, leaving behind fragmented portions of the script, written in chunks that don't meld easily. Büchner wrote in German, adding to the confusion and bewilderment since we lose some things in translation.

 We don't know the original intent of Büchner when writing this piece, except that he based it on a man with schizophrenia named Woyzeck. One of the most intriguing things about this play is that there are four possible endings, taking the characters and the viewers on different journeys with each one. Woyzeck is the definition of a tragic comedy. One of the students involved, Abigail Songer, described the play as a story of a miserable man and his miserable life, with his miserable job and wife, but yet it's funny. Bishop Martinez, another student involved, said Woyzeck was "one of my favorite shows I've done at HSU."

Early on, it is easy to recognize that Woyzeck has issues, having psychotic episodes throughout the play. Many characters berate, belittle and beat him down, making the audience consider whether his condition is innate or caused by his surroundings. One of the main set pieces of Woyzeck was four hanging lights, each symbolizing the four main characters in the play, focusing on those closest to Woyzeck. There is also commentary on Christianity, with each character seemingly having spiritual struggles. The students involved in the play described it as challenging at first but easier to understand with the passage of  time and study. They described it as a different kind of play, characterized by the script and the characters. The students also spoke about their favorite parts of the play and the preparation process. They pointed to the stage combat, crowd interaction and growing with the cast. They also noted certain scenes that portrayed the authenticity and deepness of the emotions found in each character. 

I truly enjoyed my time watching this play, especially with the gifted students who were involved. When I first heard about this play, I knew nothing about it and was able to watch it with a completely blank mental slate. This play takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions, from joy to despair. Kudos to the actors for doing such a great job, especially to student directorRailey, who did a fantastic job directing the show.


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