Thursday, September 10

An Inglorious Slop-pail of a Play

"When the French playwright Alfred Jarry—born on this day in 1873—was fifteen, he enjoyed lampooning his physics teacher, a plump, inept man who so amused his students that he became the subject of Jarry’s first attempt at drama, Les Polonais, staged with marionettes when he was still in short pants. Père Heb, as the physics teacher was called in it, had a prominent gut, a retractable ear, and three teeth (stone, iron, and wood). These features by themselves make him a distinctive figure in the history of French drama. But years later, Jarry revived Heb—as all responsible playwrights do with their juvenilia—making him somehow even more ridiculous, even more obese, and putting him at the center of Ubu Roi, a play so contentious that its premiere, in December 1896, was also its closing night. It lives in the annals of drama because it offended almost everyone who saw it. In this, it prefigured modernism, surrealism, Dadaism, and the theater of the absurd. ..."
The Paris Review
W - Alfred Jarry
TLS - Merrrrdrrrre!: Alfred Jarry and Père Ubu
Guardian - Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life by Alastair Brotchie - review
amazon: Alfred Jarry
Ubu's Almanac: Alfred Jarry and the Graphic Arts
Alfred Jarry: a Cyclist on the Wild Side

2011 April: The Insolent Eye: Jarry in Art, 2013 August: The Banquet Years of Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, Henri Rousseau, and Erik Satie - Roger Shattuck