NU rendition of “The Exception and the Rule” comes to Boston

Photo courtesy of Darren Evans.
NU students will perform "The Exception and the Rule" by Bertolt Brecht from Tuesday, Feb. 6 to Saturday, Feb. 10 in the Ryder Theatre Lab. / Photo courtesy Darren Evans.

By Jane Marks, news correspondent

Northeastern undergraduates will take the stage Tuesday for their first performance of “The Exception and the Rule,” a play showing a paradox of society in which brutality is the rule and justice is the exception.

The performance, developed entirely by students with the guidance of the theatre department, will follow a merchant on his journey through a desert to reach a city in search of wealth.

Though the play was written by Bertolt Brecht in 1920, it still addresses current issues that societies are struggling with today.

“It’s really more about the social biases, interactions and classism,” said Katya Forsyth, a second-year international affairs major who plays  both the leader in the second expedition and a policewoman.

The play is directed by Pablo Basulto, a fifth-year theatre major graduating this spring. Basulto has been working on the play since July, and the show will serve as his final capstone project. The cast, however, has been rehearsing since the beginning of January. Basulto is confident that the cast and crew are ready for opening night because of all the long hours they’ve spent preparing.

“I think we are in a really good spot,” said Basulto, “I can feel the energy in the room.”

Verena Irawan, who plays a landlord, said she couldn’t agree more with Basulto. Even after two weeks, she said, the show was starting to come together.

Irawan, a first-year undeclared student, remembers that during the second week of rehearsal, Basulto had the actors wear masks to encourage them to use their bodies to convey emotions instead of relying on their facial expressions alone.

With opening night approaching, the cast is excited to see their work presented to a variety of viewers. While Basulto developed the direction of the play himself, he had the cast add some of their own personalities into the characters, making the play their own.

“Pablo wanted it to be a collaborative effort,” said third-year media and screen studies major Joseph Kim, who plays the coolie, “It really is something we are doing together.”

Part of what makes this play different from others is its inclusion of the audience as part of the experience. Like many of Brecht’s plays, showgoers will be asked questions during the performance and Basulto, the director, is especially intrigued to see the audience’s reaction.

“I’m really interested to see how each performance changes based on who is in the room,” said Basulto, who invited groups like the Northeastern University College Democrats, Northeastern University College Republicans and DivestNU to attend specific showings. “I’m excited for it to provoke discussion.”

Even when the audience is not being addressed directly, the play is set up to always acknowledge the audience.

“Never do we pretend the audience isn’t there,” Forsyth said. “It is always important that the audience is there.”

The play is free and open to the public, and there will be showings Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets can be reserved here.

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