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October 4, 2022

UT graduate ends unfinished play through audience interaction

Ben Chesnut

A scene is acted out for 23{WOYZECK}23, which premieres October 9 at the Lab Theatre. The play, inspired by Georg Buchner’s Woyzeck, is UT graduate Diego Medellin’s directorial debut. 

“23{WOYZECK}23” is recent UT graduate Diego Medellin’s directorial debut. This production is just the beginning for Medellin, who intends to continue creating new work and collaborating with artists around Austin.

The play, inspired by Georg Buchner’s “Woyzeck,” premieres Oct. 9 at the Lab Theatre. Buchner, the original playwright, died before he completed “Woyzeck,” leaving the play open for interpretation and adaptation. “23{WOYZECK}23” tells the tragic tale of Franz Woyzeck, a working-class man who struggles with the pressures of supporting his family and trying to maintain his own mental health, which dwindles as the story progresses and eventually sends him over the edge.

Medellin’s vision of the play grew from reading different translations of Buchner’s “Woyzeck.” Medellin puts his own spin on the play by incorporating modern-day American culture into Buchner’s 19th-century play.

“What’s interesting is that the translations have very little stage directions, which at times can help one visualize the world,” Medellin said. “I enjoyed the fact that even though there weren’t any stage directions to guide me, I was able to bring this world to life just through the power of the words.”

Medellin’s last production at the Lab Theatre was a collaboration among friends titled “Cloud Tectonics,” which helped inspire his new work.

“We were inspired by the many great people before us who had used that space [the Lab Theatre] to tell an interesting story,” Medellin said. “I was interested in building a gap between recent college graduates and current students. I wanted to have the opportunity to work with each other and build a community within a space that we both were familiar with and enjoyed.” 

UT theater and dance graduates and current students consistently create, produce and collaborate in the theater community around Austin. Their drive and passion to work together to create meaningful pieces for the community is illustrated through the constant flow of new work in the theater department and all over Austin. The Lab Theatre grants students the opportunity to bring their visions to life through their own completely student-produced pieces in the theater.

“The Lab is a risk-free opportunity to collaborate with who you want, to put on whatever show you want and to create whatever you want — not every theater department has that, so it’s important to take advantage of the space,” junior theatre and dance major Alison Stoos said.

“Theater as of now is the place where I can find this process working for me. So the next step for me is to continue to learn how to create work and collaborate with other people no matter the approach — whether it be directing, writing or performing,” Medellin said.

Senior theatre studies major Joseph Dailey stars in Medellin’s upcoming production. According to Dailey, Medellin is a very focused and smart director who allows his actors to bring part of themselves into their work. This lightens up the seemingly dark production. Dailey’s experience working on the project is special in that it is the first production he has ever participated in that makes the audience piece everything together themselves, which is both weird and exciting for Dailey. The audience is given the responsibility to gather their own conclusions, which keeps them fully engaged and invested in the story throughout the show. This also gives the actors a certain freedom in their work.

“It is nice to make something you love with people you love,” Dailey said. “You seldom get to see a group of people who respect each other on stage. The strength in the ensemble is incomparable.”

Printed on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 as: Graduate ends unfinished play

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UT graduate ends unfinished play through audience interaction