Ahead of the opening of Titus Andronicus, our director, Hannah Kubiak, wanted to say a few words regarding the subject matters of this particular work.
During the past few months, I’ve received a lot of different reactions from the revelation that I am in the process of directing Titus Andronicus. These range from sadistic glee to a concern for my mental well-being. Titus Andronicus has been called “Shakespeare’s most bloody tragedy,” for good reason. Not only does it have the highest head-count of Shakespeare’s tragedies, but it also contains instances of rape, mutilation, and cannibalism. When preparing to direct this play, I read reviews of previous productions that focused almost solely on how many audience members lost consciousness from the sheer gore of it all. I hope this production manages to be a little more thought-provoking. We’ve included trigger warnings in our advertisements, and this show is rated R for mature themes and violence. It is my intention that you know what you’re walking into, but I do not wish to frighten you away. If this show was not meant to be seen, I would have directed something else.
The events of this play are difficult to stomach, but that doesn’t mean that there is no truth to them. We can’t pretend our world isn’t like this, in thought as well as in deed. There is a vengeful beast in all of us, probably even a sadistic bit of us that wants to see another person suffer. Our world is fallen and mutilated. This is not a recent development by any means. The world was fallen and mutilated in Shakespeare’s time, as well as in the Ancient Rome where the play is set. Violence and a lust for power are truly present in our world and in our own hearts. These things need to be examined by all of us as a race and as individuals. If we cover our eyes and ears, we help no one, not even ourselves. So many atrocities happen in this play because someone refused to listen and gave the condemnation: “I will not hear her speak.” We are silenced like Lavinia was if we are not allowed to communicate about the unsavory aspects of human nature.
It’s our duty as artists to tell the truth, especially if the truth is difficult. That is why theater exists. Truth, in my experience, leads to the healing of relationships, countries, families, and individual human souls. If you want to rebuild something, you have to take stock of the destruction. If you want to heal someone, you have to look at their wound. Just because we expose something doesn’t mean we’re proud of it, and only by listening and speaking and sharing the truth, however awful it may be, can we combat our own vengeful natures and, as one of the few survivors of this play says, “heal Rome’s harms and wipe away her woe.”
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