UH School of Theatre and Dance opens its 2016-2017 performance season with “Broken Horizon,” an avant garde play written and directed by Adam Noble.
The play is set in a post-apocalyptic world and explores themes of violence, sexuality, human relationships and the frailty of civilization.
“Broken Horizon” is an homage to the work of Japanese playwright Ōta Shōgo (1939-2007), who questioned the modern world’s obsession with speed. The play explores that theme by playing freely with the flow of time.
“The slow tempo was limiting us in ways,” said Noble. “There were stories we wanted to tell and suddenly we couldn’t. So we started fracturing the tempo. We started going fast and going slow, going in reverse, and this allowed us to tell a greater range of stories.”
Noble is an associate professor of acting and movement at UH, and has years of experience in teaching, acting, stunt work and fight choreography. Originally, he wanted to pay tribute by staging Ōta’s “The Water Station (Mizu no eki),” however, after that proved impossible at the time, Noble created “Broken Horizon.”
Similarly to Ōta’s work, “Broken Horizon” doesn’t have a single line of spoken dialogue — everything is conveyed through motion.
“How many shows you can think of, save dance shows, that use no sound and use no dialogue?” said theatre junior Troy Beckman, who performs the role of Omega in the play. “That’s the main thing that most actors are trained in — to speak and breathe. Now, we’re only using what we are to tell the story.”
Although he was mostly inspired by Ōta, Noble found that creating his own play allowed him to explore the issues that are more familiar to the western audiences and that he was interested in personally, like the idea of life after the end of the world.
“We’d like to think we’re very civilized, but I think that the veneer is thinner that we would like to think,” said Noble.
“Broken Horizon’s” characters are more archetypical than concrete. Their stories are meant to reflect the broad range of issues that people face today.
“Look for yourself in the characters,” said Beckman. “There are elements of every single person you know and yourself in the characters.”
The “Broken Horizon” premiere will be at 8 p.m. TONIGHT (Friday, Sept. 23) at Jose Quintero Theatre, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Four more performances will be held on Saturday and Sunday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively.
Tickets start at $10 for students and can be purchased at http://www.uh.edu/cota/theatre-and-dance/buy-tickets/2016-2017/broken-horizon/ or at the box office.