Thursday, December 2, 2010

KASPAR In Reflection

Director’s Note:

Kaspar awakens. On a stage that represents the stage. Inside the playhouse. Kaspar, the lucky owner of one sentence, begins and begins again to do something with his/her sentence. After the house has been opened, after the audience has grown sick of observing the stage or has come to want more of it.

Homeless Kaspar enters the house of language. “Language is the house of Being: in its home man dwells” (Martin Heidegger). Kaspar begins to dwell on his/her sentence, with his/her sentence.

Kaspar, by the Austrian playwright and one of the “makers of modern drama” (Robert Gilman) Peter Handke, is a poetic meditation on language, identity, homelessness, and theatre. Also called “a speech torture,” it is one of the essential pieces of Handke’s innovative theatre of awareness and of language.
Keeping to the letter of Handke’s text, this production of Kaspar does not show how it really is or how it really was with the historical figure of Kaspar Houser, who incontestably inspired Handke’s Kaspar/Kasper (“Kasper” means clown in German). Instead, it shows what is possible with someone who begins to see, engage with, and experience the world by means of one sentence. It shows Kaspar’s journey to a sonorous land inhabited by prompters, technicians, running crew, and spectators – a journey that, true to the spirit of Handke’s text, finds its beginning in the end.

The story of Peter Handke’s Kaspar is tragi-comic. It challenges us to bear witness to and participate in the reconstruction of Kaspar as a person – as a bundle of multiple social masks (etymologically, “person” means “mask”). It challenges us to see Kaspar being cracked open by and with language at a point in time when our concept of language has been expanded to include the countless computer programming languages as well as “the language of new media” (to extrapolate the formulation of media theorist Lev Manovich) that have proliferated in the past few decades. And then, when we see Kaspar being “cracked open” in front of our eyes, we are possibly challenged to think:

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” (Ludwig Wittgenstein)

Ioana Jucan ‘11

Literary Advisor’s Note:

Peter Handke’s Kaspar
Some call him incomprehensible, others call him misunderstood and count him as one of the most important postmodern writers since Beckett. For over thirty years, the Austrian-born Peter Handke has challenged readers with his explorations of language, perception, and the restrictions of expression.
Handke confronts the role and influence that language plays in creating human identity, while at the same time questioning the importance of language and the barriers it creates.
Kaspar (1968), the last of Handke's Sprechstücke (“speak-ins”) has been cited as being one of the most significant works of post-World War II German literature. While it refers to the story of the sixteen year-old Kaspar Hauser, who was found in 1828 in Nürnberg, Germany without the ability to properly speak and walk, Handke’s play goes beyond the historical depiction of an unusual character. Kaspar’s central idea claims that socialization through the construct of language inhibits individuality, suggesting that language has less to do with the comforts of communication than with a subtle coercion into conformity. How can a play that addresses these comforts make us feel so uncomfortable?
In Kaspar, we watch how a human being is molded in society's image and forced into conformity, thereby suffering alienation from his true self. Handke’s text subjects our ideas of individuality to sharp analysis. Not autonomy and independence, but living in pre-formed molds is rewarded by society. What Kaspar experiences on stage can happen daily: The need or desire to conform, to observe and imitate someone else’s words and actions, to assert oneself and at the same time, negate oneself. While language is celebrated as an instrument of liberation in Truffaut’s film, The Wild Child, Handke asks us to distrust language and become aware of the processes that can entrap us.
Aminia Brueggemann, Brown German Studies

KASPAR Who's What?

by Peter Handke
directed by Ioana Jucan ‘11

Ioana is a senior at Brown double-concentrating in Theatre Arts & Performance Studies and Modern Culture and Media. She loves working on at the intersection between theatre arts, performance studies, continental philosophy, new media and software studies. She is an interdisciplinary performance maker primarily focused on directing and playwriting. Apart from her most recent baby, Kaspar, she has recently dramaturged NYC Player’s production of Vision Disturbance directed by Richard Maxwell at the Abrons Arts Center in NYC. She is currently complementing her practical performance work with a theoretical project on Wittgenstein and the contemporary avant-garde theatre of awareness as well as an investigation of the face as a culturally-determined signifying system in the contemporary culture of the interface.



I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico on December 2, 1991 (where it's nice and warm all year long). My father passed when I was six year old, so I mainly grew up with a single mother and two older sisters. There was a lot of woman loving in my house. I traveled plenty as a child. My mother was quite an adventurous and active mom, so when I wasn't in school I was probably pulling a jeep out of a mud pit, snorkeling in some beach, or barbecuing something outside (my mom is a bad-ass chef). When I was in 5th grade I had a secret singing career- I recorded a CD that was going to go on sale when my mother freaked out in the lawyer's office and decided not to sign the release documents (it would have been so embarrassing if she had!). After being mad at my mom for not doing so for a few months, she now thinks that I should be a famous pop-star (she has not yet to realized that my dreams have shifted since I was in 5th grade). I have continued to travel and now am loving Brown and ready to study Education Studies as a means to work in education reform back home in PR.


Arianna Geneson is a freshman and plans to concentrate in Theatre Arts. She just finished a gap year in which she interned at the Washington National Opera in the production office and with the stage management team and then lived in Florence, Italy, studying Italian for five months. Geneson sang with the Washington National Opera at the Kennedy Center in several productions with its Children's Chorus and also sang the role of The First Spirit in Die Zauberflöte. Other recent performances include The Vagina Monologues ("My Vagina was my village") with Florence International Theatre Company and Brown Opera Productions's 2010 Opera Scenes--The Tales of Hoffman (Olympia). She is excited to share the messages of Kaspar with the Brown community.


Hi! My name is Ava Langford. I'm from Calhoun, GA. I am a freshman here at Brown. I enjoy romantic Ratty dinners, and sunsets at the SciLi. My outfit of choice is a nude leotard. Overall I'm a pretty simple girl exploring language through Kaspar.


Jarrett Key is sophomore, planning to concentrate in Theater and Sociology. Active in the performing arts at Brown, he is a member of the Brown Opera Productions Board, Brown Arts Mentoring Program, New Works Dance Co. and the Applied Music Program for voice. He has been involved in several productions at Brown including Leavittsburg , OH, Monsieur Choufleuri, Magic Flute, Madoff Play, The Cook, Turn of the Screw, Baz and Me, and Gianni Schicchi. Recently he is playing the role as Kaspar 1 and Prompter 1 in Handke's Production of Kaspar.


Cara Newlon is a freshman, major undecided. Before coming to Brown, she went to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Alexandria, Virginia. In high school, she directed Black Comedy and starred in productions such as Meet Me in St. Louis and Up the Down Staircase. She also starred in a professional production of Alice in Wonderland at Classika Theatre and attended Virginia Governor's School for the Performing Arts.


Matt Slauson plays Pokemon like a boss. He enjoys star gazing, long walks on the beach, boondoggling and putting on his robe and wizard's hat. He would like to dedicate his performance to fellow trainers Joseph Rosales and Jared Rosa.


Sissi Sun '12 is a Theater Arts concentrator at Brown. Besides stage performance, she also enjoys film acting, production and writing. She is an opinion columnist for The Brown Daily Herald. Sissi transferred from Northwestern University in '10 and loves the cool things that she gets to do here. Starting next semester, Sissi will be taking a year off in Beijing, China. She looks forward to writing her own play and learning a few new languages during that time and will surely miss her lovely company at Brown and also Mimi, Niu and Bubble, her beloved pet hamster and rats.



Liz Connolly '11 has been sewing and designing her own clothes ever since she was little. This is her third year working in the Brown University costume shop. In addition to designing for Kaspar, she has previously designed costumes for PW's production of The Clean House in 2010. She is also a serious violinist and President of the Brown University Orchestra. She is an East Asian Studies concentrator.


Roman Gonzalez is a senior philosophy concentrator from Corpus Christi, Texas with six years of creative and commercial video production experience behind him. He is the former President and Chief Revivalist of both Brown University Student Television and the Brown University Philosophy Undergraduate Group, and has also worked two years with the Programming team of the Ivy Film Festival. He holds particular interests in existential philosophy, reductive naturalism, moral psychology, Russian literature, postmodern fiction, and the multidisciplinary study of romantic love. While he usually writes and produces short films, Roman has enjoyed collaborating on this more experimental approach to the visual medium.


Jonathan Key is a sophomore at Rhode Island School of Design where he is concentrating in Graphic Design. Involved in the Brown Theater community, Jonathan was thrilled to be asked to be the Light Designer for this show! For Kaspar, his focus was using the light to create an atmospheric state and to play the role as a omniscient character.


Ben grew up on a farm in Deerfield, NH. He had a computer then and he currently has a computer.

KASPAR Who's Who?

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is Kaspar?

Do you ever wonder what the world would be like if you were the lucky owner of one (and only one) sentence?


“You are the lucky owner of a sentence which will make every impossible order possible for you and make every possible and real order impossible for you.”  

A terrifyingly comic play, a poetic meditation on language, identity, home(lessness), memory, and theatre. Also called “a speech torture”, Kaspar reconstructs the life on stage of Kaspar – the theatre figure and sometimes clown inspired from Kaspar Hauser, “riddle of his times” and of history, a mysterious speechless foundling who appeared in a German town in 1828 after sixteen years spent outside of all human society. Handke’s Kaspar shows young Kaspar, an autistic adolescent and owner of one (and only one) sentence, entering the stage and being made to speak by uncannily seductive Prompters. Subjected to the Prompter’s logical and alogical linguistic feats, Kaspar learns to use and live with language – until s/he is brought to order and social conformity. 

“Already with my first sentence I was trapped.”  


Peter Handke (1942-) is an Austrian playwright, novelist, poet, and screenwriter, whose dramatic work has shaped theatre and the way we think about theatre art in the last century.

“Mr. Handke …  one of the most original and provocative of contemporary writers.” (Lawrence Graver, New York Times)

“Unmistakably one of the best writers we have in that self-discovering tendency in contemporary writing we have chosen to call post-modernism. His plays and novels have steadily and splendidly put to the test many of our essential presumptions about the nature of reality and art.” (Malcolm Bradbury)

Handke is one of the “makers of modern drama” who has “written the most interesting plays since Beckett” and who “is carrying on more resolutely than anyone I know of that effort to renew drama, to combat its tendency to inertia and self-repetition” (Richard Gilman)

“It’s not often you come across writing that resounds with the undeniable sense that a writer’s life hangs in the balance” (Sam Shepard, Vanity Fair)"

Kaspar Needs You

The Brown University Senior Slot Play for Fall 2010 is proudly/curiously/raucously Kaspar by Peter Handke to be directed by Ioana Jucan '11. Kaspar is a work of theater art that profoundly questions the applicability of proof, language, and the individual's socialization through mind, language, and consciousness.

We are looking for bold/intrigued/curious performers of all experience levels to audition to be a part of this experiment in language and society.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Monday, September 27, 2010: 7-11pm
Tuesday, September 28, 2010: 3-5pm & 7-10pm
Call-backs, if necessary, will be held on Wednesday, September 29 @ 7-10:00pm in the Cave (Lyman Hall 002)

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
a tragi-comedy

written by Peter Handke
translation by Michael Roloff

directed by Ioana Jucan’11
Produced by the Department of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies and Sock & Buskin.

* Seeking performers of all kinds for an exciting theatrical adventure

* You can sign-up for an audition time in advance at the Leeds Breezeway bulletin board. If you are unsure of your schedule, you can stop by Leeds at any time on Monday or Tuesday and audition on the spot.

* If you want to read the play: copies are in the Becker Library in Lyman Hall. Email for an electronic copy of the script.

* No prepared audition pieces necessary: you will be provided with selections of the script from which to read

First rehearsal: October 4. Runs December 2-5 in Leeds Theatre (inside Lyman Hall).
PLEASE NOTE: If cast, you must return early from Thanksgiving Break for tech at 11 AM on November 28.

Kaspar will be cast without regard to gender/sexual orientation/age/race/ethnicity.

Oh yes, there will be words.

Who is Kaspar?

Kaspar is hiding.

Kaspar makes speeches.

Somewhere in this picture, Kaspar is hiding.

Have you found Kaspar yet?

Kaspar is hiding in this sentence.

Kaspar has shadows.

Can you spot Kaspar's shadows?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kaspar is over here.