A man rants wildly on a rainy street, trying to get the attention of anyone who will listen. He's becoming increasingly bitter, and he's drenched to the bone. No, this isn't a random spring night in the Montrose, but a new one-man play at DiverseWorks.
The late French playwright Bernard-Marie Koltés is almost unknown in the United States, but in European theatrical circles he's widely considered to be the successor to Samuel Beckett. Koltés wrote The Night Before the Forests as one long stream-of-consciousness sentence with no stage directions, providing certain challenges to anyone performing the piece.
"I thought about just memorizing the entire thing verbatim in one long chunk," says actor and frequent Press contributor Troy Schulze, who portrays the nameless protagonist. "But instead I broke it down into sections, sort of in loose thematic terms, to make it a little more digestible for the audience."
The audience must digest what Schulze says is the "aftermath of this man who has just had the shit beaten out of him." A bullied foreigner, he furiously rails against his French assailants to an unseen, unnamed person. "It's like the moment you realize you've been completely screwed, and you realize that everybody has it out for you. All you can do is vent," says Schulze.
Rather than relying on shopworn theatrical tropes of lighting and sound effects to create the illusion of rain, Schulze and DiverseWorks have gone the extra mile, jerry-rigging an elaborate system of pipes and hoses to physically soak the actor for real during the performance. "At first, the theater was convinced that we'd have to completely replace the floor of the stage after our run," Schulze explains. "But hopefully that's been sorted out. Now I'm just trying to find a way to do this three times a week without getting really sick."