The Lewis Center for the Arts will present, Roll!, a new play written and directed by Program in Theater senior Jeff Kuperman. Performances will be held on April 27 through 29 and May 1 through 3 at 8:00 p.m. in the Marie and Edward Matthews ’53 Acting Studio at 185 Nassau Street.
Roll! is an original, evening-length physical theater piece that combines text, stylized choreography, music, and video projection to tell the story of Sef, a working actor whose life is suddenly turned upside down. After 10 years of playing the lead role in a popular television medical drama, Sef loses his job following a sudden and intense bout of vertigo. He struggles to find new balance by pursuing a relationship with a burlesque dancer named Kate who cooks full-course meals in her sleep.
Written by Kuperman, who also choreographs and creates the video projection with fellow senior Isaiah Miller, the play is inspired by Albert Camus’ famous absurdist essay, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” The four-chapter essay concludes with the mythological figure of Sisyphus, who, after deceiving the gods, is doomed to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. Camus claims that Sisyphus accepts the futility of his task, but continues to revolt against it. He continues to push the boulder up the mountain even in the face of absurdity. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself...is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
“My goal is to physicalize this conflict between a chaotic, irrational world and the human instinct to find meaning in and impose order upon that world,” notes Kuperman. “As Sef tries to make sense of his situation, relying on ritual and repetition, his world shifts unpredictably underneath him.”
The cast members of Roll! use their backgrounds in dance, acrobatics, and athletically devised movement to portray the protagonist’s struggle. Adds Kuperman, “Walls become floors and gravity is a mere plaything, so that the play’s action mirrors Sef’s existential, emotional and physical disorientation. Sef strives to find meaning in his daily battle to, quite literally, stay on his feet.”
The cast of junior and senior students includes Lily Akerman, Gabriel Crouse, Courtney Crumpler, Lisa Einstein, Michael Thomas Jr., and Bradley Wilson.
“It is especially exciting when the Program in Theater can present original student work as part of our thesis season,” notes Tim Vasen, Acting Director of the Program. “This project is a fitting conclusion to Jeff's theatrical career at Princeton, where he has been an outstanding actor, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker and all-around theater mind at the heart of seemingly everything we've done in the past few years.
The piece will also play in New York City as part of ANT Fest presented annually by Ars Nova on June 9 at 8:00 p.m. at 511 West 54th Street. More information on the New York performance can be found at arsnovanyc.com.
The Lewis Center’s theater season will conclude with a new adaptation of the ancient Greek comedy The Birds, with a new script and newly composed music by a student team, running the last two weeks of May.
Tickets for Roll! are $12, $10 for students and seniors, and may be reserved through Princeton University Ticket Office by calling 609.258.9220, on-line, or at the Frist Campus Center ticket office. Tickets are also available at each performance.