The University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneer Players will perform a psychological thriller from 7:30-10 p.m. Wednesday Feb. 20 through Sunday Feb. 24.
“Death and the Maiden,” a controversial 1990 play written by Chilean playwright Ariel Dorfman, features fine arts major Kim Cordova, sophomore secondary education major Elliott Frieden and education graduate student Quincy Bufkin.
The plot centers around the character Paulina Salas, played by Cordova, a women held hostage and raped during a political war. Years later, her husband, played by Bufkin, brings home a man named Dr. Miranda, whom Salas believes to be her former tormenter. The accused man, played by Frieden, is held hostage while Salas holds her own trial.
The Pioneer Players and director Associate Professor of Theater David Schuler spun a slightly different style of set to lend the play a dark, voyeuristic mood. Scenes will unfold from above the stage and through huge windows.
“We are playing with the audience reaction,” Schuler said. “It is like peeking through your neighbors’ windows. It will give the audience a strong reaction and generate discussion.”
The dark nature of the play encouraged Frieden to study the character and try to incorporate the evil doctor into his own personality.
“I have to act very differently. I am a very nice guy,” Frieden said. “For this character, I need to act as creepy as possible.”
Bufkin’s role as the husband was equally challenging. Bufkin’s character goes through the scenes with a wife who has never recovered from what has happened to her. It is up to the audience to decide how it ends, Bufkin said.
“I think every minute of this play is intense. Every minute the audience will be wondering what will happen next,” Bufkin said. “It will keep them on their toes.”
Controversial director Roman Polanski created a film version of “Death and the Maiden,” but Schuler warns the audience not to expect the same version in this production.
“This is the original version created by Dorfman,” Schuler said. “None of us have seen the film version.”
There will be post-show discussions with UW-Platteville Associate Professor of History Melissa Gormley and Assistant Professor of Spanish Chris Schulenburg following the Friday and Saturday evening performances. Both professors specialize in Latin American studies and will give insight to the historical background of the play.
Tickets for the production are available at the University Box Office at (608) 342-1298 or tickets.uwplatt.edu. All shows will be performed in the Center for the Arts Theatre. The play is recommended for mature audiences due to strong language and adult situations.