WALLA WALLA, Wash.— “Ivona, Princess of Burgundia,” which opens at Whitman’s Harper Joy Theatre Thursday, Dec. 7, is at once an absurdist fable, a hilarious farce, and a disturbing reflection on society.
Written in 1938 by renowned Polish playwright, author and philosopher Witold Gombrowicz, the play tells the tale of the fairytale kingdom of Burgundia and its flawlessly fashionable society, which is brought to its knees by the one person who insists on being herself — Ivona, an “unattractive” and silent young woman who is engaged to the prince of Burgundia. Although written nearly 70 years ago, its message of the danger as well as the strength of being oneself and refusing to conform to society’s norms still resonate today.
While some in the audience will see in the play a commentary on society, others will no doubt see it as a testament to the fact that “you create your own reality,” said Chris Petit, who is directing the play. In order to portray Ivona as “the other,” she will be played by five different actresses during the presentation. “We’re trying to show that it’s less what she represents and more how people react to her that creates the situation.”
In addition, Petit and guest set designer Tobin Alexander Young have created a series of moving curtains and screens that will work much like the iris of a camera, framing and focusing on specific actors and scenes. “We’ll be playing with the perspective of the audience. It’s something new that we’ve been collaborating on for quite some time but this is the first time we’ve had the opportunity to use it in a production.”
“Ivona, Princess of Burgundia” opens at 8 p.m. on HJT’s Alexander Stage Thursday, Dec. 7, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 10 (when the show will be performed as a 2 p.m. matinee). For tickets or information, please call the HJT box office at (509) 527-5180 during office hours Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m.
CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156