BY: Fernando Arrabal
DIRECTED BY: Michael S. Pieper
Director Pieper balances just the right notes of rawness and loveliness, shock and irony, allowing this provocative play to get under your skin without irritating. One of the top 5 shows to see in Chicago
-Kate Zambreno, New York City Review
“Fernando Arrabal’s 1960 play, an absudist update of the Crucifixion – Jesus is the lead in a garage band – should be dated by now. Its bizarre reversals of role and tone, its casual sex and even more casual cruelty, hark back to the style of earlier days, when WAITING FOR GODOT made tragi-comic meaninglessness both an art form and a social comment. The fact that the AUTOMOBILE GRAVEYARD stands up to the ravages of time and to comparison with Beckett is a tribute to Trap Door Theatre’s flawless production and Michael S. Pieper’s direction and set design. The staging highlights every bit of Arrabal’s insanity, from making Jesus, Judas, and Peter into the Marx Brothers (the silent one speaks via harmonica) to conceiving of the world as a hotel run in abandoned cars by corrupt, unctuous bell captain (the spectacular Devon Schumacher). At its core is Danny Belrose as Emanou, balancing earnestness with playfulness and even descents into falsity. I would start a religion around him any day. Beata Pilch (who gives a terrific vanity-free performance) has worked costuming wonders with a few bolts of red cloth and some spangles, making Nicole Wiesner as Dila look irresistible. In other hands, the play’s deep religiosity might seem quaint. But Trap Door knows not to nudge and wink about the determined search for God – the primary preoccupation, strangely enough , of those infidel existentialists. *****”
-Kelly Kleiman, Review from Chicago Reader (June 29th, 2001)
AUTOMOBILE GRAVEYARD… A trio of musicians fleeing from the law seek refuge in an automobile junkyard.
CAST: Tom Bateman, Michael McEvoy, Beata Pilch, Danny Belrose, Nicole Wiesner, Bob Rokos, Devon Schumacher, Peter Esposito, Garrett Prejean, Jeff Kain, Judy Loyd, Kevin Byrne
LIGHTING DESIGN: Richard Norwood COSTUME DESIGN: Beata Pilch SET DESIGN: Michael Pieper STAGE MANAGER: Erica Berger GRAPHIC DESIGN: Alex Present
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT: Fernando Arrabal was born in Melilla (Spanish Morocco) on August 11, 1932, shortly before war was to tear his country apart. His father, an officer of the Spanish army, was sentenced to death at the beginning of the war for being opposed to the military coup. He was imprisoned by Franco, and escaped on November 4, 1941 and disappeared forever. Fernando Arrabal was brought up by his mother in a rigidly Catholic atmosphere. Now a voluntary exile from Spain, he has lived in Paris since 1955 and writing in French, he has emerged as one of Europe’s front-rank dramatists. He has published 12 novels, nearly 70 plays, and epistles. He has directed 7 full-length films and founded the “Panic Movement” in 1962. Although he is one of the most controversial writers of his time, he has received many international prizes and distinctions.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR: Michael S. Pieper is currently the Head of Acting at the Second city Training Center. He created this program almost nine years ago with the late Martin da Maat. He also was on the faculty of the United States International University of San Diego for 8 years and Artistic Director of the North Coast Repertory Theatre Conservatory in San Diego for four years. In Chicago, Michael was Artistic Director at the Boxer Rebellion Theatre and Resident Director/Artistic Associate at the Trap Door Theatre. He has been a Guest Director and Instructor at Northern Illinois University over the past 7 years. He has directed over 80 productions in his career. His plays have received 9 Jeff recommendations, 7 Jeff nominations, 3 Jeff citations and 5 After Dark Awards. Opened: October 2001