Man With Bags by Eugene Ionesco

Produced June 16 - 19 at
the University of Akron
in collaboration with
Newfangled Productions

Directed by Wendy S. Duke
in partial fulfillment of a master's thesis in
theatre arts
The journey began in the
lobby of Sandefur Theatre, otherwise known as the Atrium.   The audience received initial instructions from a video monitor set up at the box office, where they also received their orfficial passport.

Cast members joined the audience at 15 minutes prior to the official start time.

Actors selected a specific year to portray.

The Sphinx made his way silently down to box office level from the balcony of the atrium where otehr authority figures lurked.
A Frenchman from 1942
1983 had a lot to say as she circulated.
First Man encounters an Artist, sketching on the banks of the Seine. 

Below:  The artist claims it is 1938 and points out a crowd of revolutionaries on the other side of the river.
A Boatman appears and offers to ferry First Man across the river.  They depart through the doors to Sandefur theatre.
Cast members guide the audience into the theatre and advise them to hold on to their passports.  Inside, the space is divided into two triangular areas.  The playing area is divided by suitcases stacked to form desks.  The areas are further demarcated by lighting.  The audience is directed to sit in the area that is lit.  Cast members are in the dark area, from which they will make entrances.

At one end of the acting space is a rear projection screen, that shows a house on fire.
First Man appears, flanked by First Woman and Young Man.  They are on a journey to visit First Man's child hood home. 
First Man's suitcases are not in this scene.  His family become his luggage.  The actors are "glued" together at the hands.  They play the entire scene this way
This scene has layers of memory.  First Man is remembering a jjouirney that revisited another time, and in doing so, he remembers his mother who is dead, yet appears before them.  It is the crucial year in which Ionesco's mother died and he married his wife.  In the scene, the mother hands over the care of her son to the wife.

The wheelchair is rolled into the dark side of the space and the First Old Woman is replaced by the Second Old Woman.  Her body is crippled with arthritis.  A Young Woman appears -- it is her mother, who "went away" when the Old Woman was a child.  Now in second childhood, she is reunited with a memory, perhaps a ghost....

First Man continues to be a silent witness in this scene.

First Man disconnects from his wife and son, sits and becomes a part of the audience.  He watches the Young Man (who could possibly be his younger self) roll a wheelchair into what might be a rest home.  The elderly woman seems resigned to her fate until the Young Man accuses her of infidelity with her husband.  A bitter screaming match ensues as the old woman attempts to commit suicide, 

Note that Ionesco's mother attempted to kill herself with an overdose of pills.
At this point it is time for the audience to go through a Security Check point as they are informed they must move to the other side of the Terminal.  Lights go up on the Dark side and cast members move into positions at the security desks.  Passports are checked as the audience moves through.
Once the audience finds new seats, First Man rejoins the action.  He encounters his grandparents, and his Old Uncle. His Grandpa and his Uncle walk into the burning house.  First Man is unable to stop them.

His Grandmother grows young again -- with her children at her side --  before his eyes.
A Clerk from the local Town Hall shows up and offers to assist First Man in locating his grandmother's maiden name.  But there could be some problems -- perhaps his grandmother was a member of a condemned race....
Grandma's a looker! But the clerk cannot help First Man.
First Man finds himself in the middle of another combination of relatives:  his wife, his son and daughter (represented by a large doll with an Egyptian eye), and another set of grandparents.  As he tries to rememberf his family history,   the others form family portraits around him.  They pose and freeze as the flash of a camera illuminates each memory.
First Man's father shows up accompanied by the pounding of military feet above in the grid.  The family remind him that the Father abandoned them.  First Man attempts to connect with his father, but it is no use.  Father calls for a taxi, but a Vroomobile shows up instead.  All the family go for a ride, leaving Father by himself.

At the end of the ride, the family fall down like tumbled statues, and the head of the doll breaks off and rolls on the floor.
First Man attempts to run off, but istops when he realizes he forgot his bags.  His son transforms into a soldier and asks for the password.  First Man is informed that he must take a quiz.

The soldier opens an exit door for First Man and the audience to go through in order to mjeet up with the Sphinx.

All proceed to the elevator doorway.
The Sphinx quizzes First Man and the audience, before they are given permission to pass the check point on their journey down to Studio 28.
Music to start the show: 
Accordian by Dred Scott