“Story of a Rabbit delicately balances the mundane and the profound, the tragic and the comic.” —The Scotsman
Hoipolloi Theatre’s comic and curiously uplifting
Story of a Rabbit
begins with a tea service, and is followed by a journey celebrating the complexities of death. Combining charismatic Welsh writer/performer Hugh Hughes’ lo-fi theatricality and hi-fi physicality with Aled Williams’ atmospheric live music, Story of a Rabbit lifts the lid on life’s final mystery. The final installment of the Walker Art Center’s UK Performance Now! series will be performed Thursday–Saturday, May 28–30, at 8 pm in the William and Nadine McGuire Theater.
Hugh Hughes has a mission. He aims to meet every one of the hoi polloi entering the William and Nadine McGuire Theater. It’s fascinating to him that “the audience” as a whole can be deconstructed into individuals and, as he says during the show, each will see the same performance from different perspectives—not only in terms of where they are sitting, but according to what point they are at in their lives when they arrive at the door. After the meet-and-greet, he drifts onstage to engage in tragicomic storytelling on the passing of his father and the recent demise of his neighbors’ pet rabbit, serving up “the perfect mix of laugh-out-loud humor, the simplest of props, and genuinely touching passages about life’s mysteries” (Evening Standard).
Philip Bither, the Walker’s McGuire Senior Curator for the Performing Arts, saw Story of a Rabbit at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival (at which the piece won the Fringe First Award and was nominated for a Total Theatre Award). At that event—the largest arts festival in the world offering theater, comedy, music, dance, and exhibitions at multiple venues—in a packed hall of 800 restless aficionados, Hughes held the audience rapt. “At the same time,” says Bither, “he was exploring theater in a very contemporary way. He appeared to be conjuring emotions and ideas on the spot, but was actually pushing the monologue form into a full-fledged, carefully structured theatrical performance experience, with his musician/performer friend offering a subtle onstage counterpoint.” The Edinburgh Festival echoed this insight, calling it “a performance that is memorable as much for its protagonist’s overwhelming personal charm as its status as an uncommonly brilliant piece of theatre.”
Through this infectious fusion of character, comedy, lecture, movement, and song, Story of a Rabbit brings the Walker’s UK Performance Now! series and performing arts season to a soaring close. The piece might also serve as an entrée to contemporary performance art for a broader audience, so bring a friend or two because, as one critic notes: “Hughes’ infectious optimism should be prescribed as medicine for depressives,” and because . . . well, because we’re here one minute and gone the next. So, why not?
Since the company was founded in 1994 by Shôn Dale-Jones (Artistic Director) and Stefanie Müller (Associate Director) Hoipolloi has created 16 new shows. The ensemble tours extensively throughout the UK and continues to grow its international presence, visiting locations as diverse as London’s Barbican Centre, Sydney Opera House, the National Museum of Singapore, and UCLA in Los Angeles, as well as festivals in Bogotá, Helsinki, Moscow, and Tasmania.
Hoipolloi has received three Total Theatre Award nominations, as well as a win for Floating (2006); a nomination for Best Actor from The Stage Awards; and a Scotsman Fringe First Award for Story of a Rabbit (2007).
A Toast to the End
Thursday–Saturday, May 28–30, 7 pm
McGuire Theater, 4th floor
Lift a glass to celebrate the final event of the UK Performance Now! series and the Walker’s performing arts season. Arrive early for cheap drinks and a spot of tea with Hugh.
Tickets to Hoipolloi Theatre’s Story of a Rabbit are: Thursday, $18 ($15 Walker members); Friday–Saturday, $25 ($21) and are available at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612.375.7600.