Fedly Daniel and Tamara Sevunts | Photo: Robert Morton Photography
“In French, ‘ouf’ means great. But the word Ouf was created from the inversion of the letters of the word ‘fou’ which means crazy,” So says French playwright and theatrical director, Sylvaine Hinglais , author of this new work opening in New York City's Lower East side on October 17th.
The limited run, courtesy of Concrete Timbre, the New York based composer-driven performance collective, tackles immigration in a limited run at University Settlement.
Ms. Hinglais explains. “Voyage de Ouf therefore means an extraordinary voyage, but one which borders on madness. As we all know, the theme of ‘the voyage’ is vast. It invokes many different types of journeys: physical, spiritual and symbolic. The play Voyage de Ouf is all of this at the same time.”
The show is an inventive theatrical production that’s a mosaic of allegorical skits, each with its own color, humor and emotion. The music is live, original, and contemporary, evoking the magic of soaring dreams. The projections and lighting creatively allow performers to transform in front of the audience.
“Voyage de Ouf touches on humanity in very special ways. There’s an underlying theme of migration (immigration and emigration) that focuses on our reasons for being, our wanting to belong and to fit in, the way we miss our past places and people, and in the end, where we are going,” Says Ann Warren, Artistic Director of Concrete Timbre.
Ouf are on the train. Ouf wait for a bus, a truck, a boat. Ouf walk straight ahead. They come from everywhere, without knowing where they are going. Ouf feel violence and the need for love intimately intertwined. Some sleep at a beach campsite, others at refugee camps. Some dream of a lost face, others of being able to eat. All hope to find a place in the sun. In the sun? But as the earth turns, the sun moves constantly. So, when do we get there?
The play, performed in French with English titles, will enjoy a limited run on Thursday, October 17 and Friday, October 18 at 7:30 PM each evening. On Saturday, October 19, there will be performances at 4:30 PM and at 7:30 PM to complete the run.
Performances will take place at University Settlement, Speyer Hall, 184 Eldridge Street on the corner of Rivington Street, on the Lower East Side near Delancy Street. The theater is accessible by subway. Take the J, Z to Bowery, or F to Second Avenue.
See google map here: https://bit.ly/2p7mFR2
Working with her own theatrical company in France, Compagnie Cosmopolite du Pierrot Lunaire, Ms. Hinglais explains that their plays explore universal themes: “the need for love, communication, foreignness, the necessity of finding one’s place in the world. Our plays can therefore be adapted to all languages and all cultures,” she says.
“This play was inspired by the very current and universal issue of immigration. What does it mean to emigrate? To emigrate is to leave one’s country to become a foreigner in another country. What does it mean to be a foreigner? To be a foreigner means confronting the unknown, an unknown place with unknown people and unknown habits, a new language, and a new mentality,” says the playwright. “So, the immigrant experiences all the forms that the voyage can take, traversing his emotions, his relationships with others and with himself. The perfect allegory for the immigrant is the character of Ouf.”
The theme of immigration is one making headlines these days, and not coincidently, Speyer Hall at University Settlement was founded 125 years ago with the mission to support immigrants arriving in this country and seeking to enhance their chances of achieving the American Dream. The location has great significance.
Voyage de Ouf has been in the works for a couple of years, and was produced in Paris in 2018. Afterwards, Ms. Hinglais made some changes to incorporate Concrete Timbre’s live musicians and visual projections to fill in and extend the poetry of the words.
This production of Voyage de Ouf is Composed by Whitney George and Ann Warren.
Direction is by Nathalie Bryant and Irina Abraham.
Sets by Tim Abraham
Lighting Design by Bentley Heydt
Videos, projections, and titles by Robert Morton
Voyage de Ouf is performed by Fedly Daniel and Tamara Sevunts.
Music is performed by Lindsey Eckenroth (flute, piano), Evan Runyon (double bass, guitar), and Joe Tucker (percussion).
Tickets can be found online at BrownPaperTickets.com: