Ubu. It's the name of a lunatic king, a television dog and an avant-garde rock group. It's also the name of an Off-Broadway theatre company now entering its 16th year.
Taken from Alfred Jarry's satire, Ubu Roi, Ubu Repertory, on Manhattan's West 28th St. In Manhattan, devotes itself to French contemporary plays in translation, as well as modern French classics. The fall season began in October with works by Camus and Grumberg.
Nov. 11-23 brings two one-acts to Ubu: Mama'll Be Back Poor Orphan by Jean-Claude Grumberg, and Boris Spielman's Big Comeback by Serge Kribus. Both plays, officially opening Nov. 12, are performed in English (translation by Suzanne Quittner) and directed by Jonas Jurasas.
In Orphan, a man undergoing an eye operation reencounters his dead mother and the father he lost during World War II. Comeback also has a Jewish theme: an elderly Jewish actor, about to play King Lear, moves in with his son -- who's just lost his job and family. Will father and son bridge insults and misunderstandings and forge a resolution?
Grumberg's other plays include The Free Zone, The Workshop and 1974's Dreyfus, which played on Broadway. Kribus, only 35 and of Belgian descent, wrote Arloc, which premiered in Paris last year. Lithuanian director Jurasas is a graduate of the Lunacharsky International Academy in Moscow.
Ubu Rep's founder and artistic director Kourilsky won the French Legion of Honor medal for her work at Ubu, La MaMa and in France. Recent Ubu stagings include Always Together and Another Story.
According to spokesperson Kendra Moyer, Ubu began in 1982 at a Mercer Street space, then came to its current home in 1989. Springtime plays for this season have not yet been chosen. According to spokesperson Kendra Moyer, Ubu began in 1982 at a Mercer Street space, then came to its current home in 1989. Springtime plays for this season have not yet been chosen, though Moyer says the following season will be devoted to "modern classics by Jean Giraudoux, Jean Anouilh, and/or Jean-Paul Sartre."
-- By David Lefkowitz