An original mash-up of Picnic on the Battlefield and Enchanted Night
Written by Fernando Arrabal and Slawomir Mrozek
Directed by Lisa Channer and Vladimir Rovinsky
On March 2, 2012, Theatre Novi Most opened its latest production at The Southern Theater, Picnic on the Battlefield: an original tragicomedy about the absurdities of war. Theatre Novi Most, best known for 2010’s The Oldest Story in the World (which Twin Cities Daily Planet called “something brilliant” and “bewitching” and Minnesota Playlist hailed “an ecstatic combo-platter of history-spanning storytelling”), blends two absurdist plays — Fernando Arrabal’s Picnic on the Battlefield (1961) and Slawomir Mrozek’s Enchanted Night (1952) — into one slapstick-funny and dead-serious narrative, with unique connections between the characters in both pieces.
Picnic on the Battlefield begins with Zapo, a soldier from a nameless country, as he comes face to face with his greatest horror: an unannounced visit from his parents; they’ve arrived on the battlefield to cheer up their despondent son with a picnic. As the bombs continue to fall around them, and as the family accidentally captures an enemy soldier named Zepo, Zapo continuously
struggles to balance his job as a soldier and entertaining his overbearing folks. Decades later, two former war medics share a hotel room built on the vary same battlefield. In the middle of the night, they are visited by a beautiful young woman, except they can’t decide if she is real or a dream. And if the former medics are dreaming, who is dreaming whom? Picnic on the Battlefield weaves two plays from two different decades (from two separate parts of the world) in surprising ways, retaining the purity of each piece while also creating an entertaining commentary bigger than the sum of its parts.
Annie Katsura Rollins (Set design)
Rob Perry (light design)
Aaron Schoenrock (sound design)
Amanda McGee (costume design)
Fernando Arrabal (Playwright, Picnic on the Battlefield) was born in 1932, and grew up within the Spanish Civil War. Arrabal commands an impressive body of work, having published over 100 plays, 14 novels, and directed seven full-length films. A distinct surrealist and absurdist aesthetic has kept Arrabal in the same literary conversations as Marcel Duchamp, Eugène Ionesco, Dario Fo, and Jean Baudrillard. The Dictionary of Literatures in the French Language called Arrabal “artistic heir of [Franz] Kafka’s lucidity and [Alfred] Jarry’s humor; in his violence, Arrabal is related to [Marquis de] Sade and [Antonin] Artaud…deeply political and merrily playful, both revolutionary and bohemian.” There are also a number of unsubstantiated reports that Arrabal was a finalist for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.
Slawomir Mrozek (Playwright, Enchanted Night) was born in Poland in 1930, and joined the Polish United Worker’s Party while the country was under Stalinist rule. A political journalist before becoming a playwright, Mrozek’s anti-religious career took him to France, Italy, Mexico, and Yugoslavia. His plays are firmly set within Theatre of the Absurd, with scenarios designed to shock audiences with non-realistic elements, political and historic references, distortion, and parody.