Written by Sean Braune
Directed and Designed by Michael F Bergmann
A BergARTS collaboration
Workshop presentation April 20 - 22, 2010, 8PM at Abrams Studio Theatre, Ryerson University
Programme now available here.
Newest information always available here.
Peter Higginson as Dr. Mitchell Allustrof
Ed Hillier as Matthias Kirsch
Anna Ross as Caroline
Claudia Yiu as Georgette
Erin Dickson as Racine
Technical Direction, Audio and Lighting Design by Kai Masaoka
Stage Managed and Costume Design by Marianne Jetté
Leer is a play that explores the basic plot of Shakespeare’s King Lear in the present, while also exploring the German connotation of leer which means “empty.” The central character is the German scientist Dr. Allustrof, pataphysician, who is filled with an encroaching darkness and emptiness as his dark past catches up with him at the end of his life. He is terrified of the dark and finds himself collecting countless lamps and lightbulbs to offset the darkness which he sees as containing the ghosts of all of those dead casualties of his technological inventions during WWII. He secludes himself in his home as he repeatedly attempts to deny his past even though three of his graduate students are waiting outside for him to show his face. The three students – Georgette, Racine, and Caroline – each hope he is safe and still alive, but more importantly they each want to hear him lecture again because his oratory filled them with a briefly-felt meaning in life. Caroline is haunted by her love for Allustrof which is now challenged by the love of one of his top disciples, Matthias Kirsch, who wants to save his mentor from the darkness (and madness) that is threatening to swallow him up.
Dr. Mitchell Allustrof. Male. 75.
Allustrof is an older man caught in the conflictual torrent of internal struggle over guilt experienced at his engagement with the technology that was used to subjugate the Jews in WWII, and also his culpability in the creation of the atomic bomb with Oppenheimer. Allustrof has denied his past, is stubbornly resistant to his own guilt in the events, claims that his hands are clean and has focused on a brilliant career in Pataphysics at the local university. He is an inspiring orator who engages students with his dramatic monologues. He has fallen in love with one of his students, Caroline, but denies this as well, as a history of repression tugs at the remaining coherency of his mind as his life unravels in the throes of madness. At the play’s beginning, Allustrof has sequestered himself inside his house with his large collection of lamps and lights, hoping to illuminate the darkness that lurks in his soul.
Dr. Matthias Kirsch. Male. 35.
Kirsch was one of Allustrof’s finest graduate students, a brilliant and conceited pataphysician and also a good friend of the aging professor. However, he has also fallen in love with Caroline and is pulled into the absurd relational triangle as he tries to save Allustrof from the mad professor’s own tendency towards seclusion and self-destruction. He is frustrated with life.
Caroline. Female. 24.
Caroline is a brilliant, though unsure girl, lost in the world after the ruination of her ties to both Allustrof and Kirsch. She misses them both, and is confused by her love of Allustrof (which is not physical in the least) and Kirsch (which is physical and not emotional because she finds him pompous). She is a close friend with Georgette and Racine.
Dr. Georgette. Female. 28.
Georgette is the best friend of Racine. She and Racine play as a sort of Vladimir and Estragon to the absurdist drama occurring between the three “lovers.” Georgette is confident and slightly conceited, but she (like Racine and Caroline) finds herself waiting outside Allustrof’s house to catch a glimpse of the now reclusive professor. She acts as a moral compass to the actions of both Racine and Caroline. She is dismissive and suspicious of Kirsch.
Racine. Female. 22.
Racine is more flippant than Georgette and is looking to have fun, whereas Georgette is looking to hear Allustrof lecture again. Racine is confused by Caroline’s ridiculous situation and constantly attempts to set her on the right course, which in her opinion is with Kirsch. Racine, like Georgette, is fascinated by Allustrof, but his darkness frightens her.