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Exit the King

March 06, 2015

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Director: Guest Faculty Robert Quillen Camp
Scene Designer: Associate Professor Michael Olich
Costume Designer: Senior Thesis Candidate Kaylie Hatos
Lighting Designer: Staff Technical Director Matthew Robins

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Somewhere in an unnamed country, a king is dying.


The absurdist playwright Eugène Ionesco wrote the witty, raucous, and ultimately deeply moving play Exit the King in 1962 after suffering a serious illness in his middle age. He wrote that the illness and the fear that it provoked prompted him to see if “one could learn to die.” More than anything else, Exit the King is an attempt to come to grips with the inevitability of death. But it is at the same time a play that celebrates life, delighting in all of its ridiculousness, preposterousness, and fragile beauty.


In this production, in addition to the characters of the King, his first wife Queen Marguerite (to be played in a thesis performance by Emily Hodgson), his second wife Queen Marie, the attending Doctor, the maid Juliette, and the royal Guard, there will also be cast Three Ushers who, in addition to serving as the production’s ushers, will perform the role of a chorus.


Through the creation of a rich and strange dying world, realized in the scenic design by Associate Professor Michael Olich, the lighting design by Staff Technical Director Matthew Robins, the thesis costume design by Kaylie Hatos, and the projection design by Trevor Sargent, this production will highlight the particular resonance of this play for our own time in the parallels that Ionesco draws between the inescapable death of the self and the threat of total environmental collapse.  At the same time, we will invigorate Ionesco’s text with a joyful, careening theatricality, reveling until the curtain finally, inevitably, comes down.