Fatelessness Theatre Y

Mar 30 - Apr 16 - In development since late 2015, Fatelessness is a physical score set to a radio play adapted by Andràs Visky and Adam Boncz from the novel Fatelessness by Imre Kertész, a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate for Literature and a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. The semi-autobiographical story, is told through a first-person narrative with a dance accompaniment and describes a Hungarian teenager's life in the Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz camps during the Holocaust.

Thu-Sat 730p; Sun 4p until April 16th
Tickets $20/$15. More info 708-209-0183

03/30/17 - 04/16/17

Thu-Sat 730p; 4p Sun

"Fatelessness", Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader 4/5/17. - "Theatre Y director Melissa Lorraine's intriguing experiment with Imre Kertész's Noble Prize-winning novel Fatelessness is half brilliant. While we hear Michael Doonan's prerecorded voice reading a greatly condensed version of the book, which follows bemused, dispassionate 15-year-old Hungarian Jew Gyuri through three Nazi concentration camps, we watch Benjamin Holliday Wardell silently enact a 65-minute yoga routine. The juxtaposition of bodies-Gyuri's buffeted by chaotic external forces, Wardell's guided by disciplined internal commands, both contorted to the brink of recognizability-creates provocative tensions that never resolve. Even the unavoidable tedium nicely parallels Gyuri's languishing in what Kertesz called "the dreary trap of linearity." But in this adaptation by Andràs Visky and Adam Boncz, Kertész's richly detailed text is stripped to an overly efficient outline, and Doonan's disgruntled bro persona gives the story an unaccountable peevishness. Wardell's meticulous work needs a stronger foil" -Justin Hayford

"Fatelessness", August Lisky @ Chicagocritic.com. - "One year ago, Imre Kertész died, leaving behind a legacy of writing, many of the themes of which were born from his time in the Nazi concentration camps. Written in the 1970s, Fatelessness, his most recognized work, received the 2002 Nobel Prize in Literature. What is striking about the novel, to quote Director Melissa Lorraine, is its teenage protagonist's "wholly unsentimental voice," which resembles its author's own uncommon perspective on the events.

Theatre Y's production of Fatelessness in some way preserves this "unsentimental voice"-both literally and aesthetically. The radio play (of the same title) that was adapted from the novel by Andràs Visky is played through speakers, spoken by Michael Doonan, in whose adaptive voice I could hear disassociated irony playing over his underlying lifeless defeat. As this "narration," so to speak, plays, Benjamin Holliday Wardell (characterized as "Dance" in the playbill) "performs" a physically rigorous yoga routine on a mat as two low-angled stage lights cast his nimble, bare body's reflection upon an all-black background. The effect of these elements, so combined, is stark, yet alluring; disconnected, yet congruous. It is sincerely unsentimental.

Given the subject, perhaps even more than most performance art pieces (as I would categorize this), Fatelessness defies a catchy or otherwise broad synopsis: it is an experience-and a mature experience at that, insofar as this production offers far more in terms of contemplation than entertainment, far more than any production I've ever seen. That being said, the production is a strangely absorbing success on its own terms-between Wardell's incredible discipline and flexibility and the unique retelling of a Holocaust survival, I was surprised by how entranced I found myself-but for those who are not open to being so absorbed, it may be a long, even absurd hour.

This anti-climactic, anti-cathartic, un-showy production is intentionally so designed, however, so as to keep with the spirit of the novel. As Andràs Visky himself spoke of his novel, he might have made the dramatization "showier" by capturing only "the most powerful scenes." But his novel's hero, he says, "does not live his own time in the concentration camps, for neither his time nor his language, not even his own person, is really his. He doesn't remember; he exists. . . . Instead of a spectacular series of great and tragic moments, he has to live through everything, which is oppressive and offers little variety, like life itself" (ibid). In an esoteric way, this timeless existence is present in the dissonant communion of Wardell's meditatively absorbing yoga and Doonan's narration of largely unspectacular events. This, though, I only understood during the post-show discussion (which I'd recommend staying for).

I would call Theatre Y's production of Fatelessness daring, not least because it challenges its audience's casual investment of attention and intellect, but especially because it offers no extraneous, aesthetic pretentions to disguise the challenge: it is sincerely-that is on principle, for a purpose-unsentimental. Personally, I found the casual and welcoming discussion after the performance more cultivating than the performance itself, but for admirers of avant-garde productions that imagine outside the (black)box, Fatelessness is a singular and fascinating theatrical experience".








For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Kristy Wenz, kristy@endurallc.com
Endura Communications, LLC


"I would like to live a little bit longer in this beautiful concentration camp."

CHICAGO - Theatre Y is pleased to announce the presentation of Fatelessness at the Chopin Theatre beginning Thursday, March 30, 2017 for a 12-show run through Sunday, April 16, 2017. In development since late 2015, Fatelessness is a physical score set to a radio play adapted by Andràs Visky and Adam Boncz from the novel Fatelessness by Imre Kertész. The semi-autobiographical story, is told through a first-person narrative with a dance accompaniment and describes a Hungarian teenager's life in the Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Zeitz camps during the Holocaust.

Written by Kertész, a 2002 Nobel Prize laureate for Literature and a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Fatelessness is the first part of a trilogy, which continues in A Kudarc (Fiasco), and Kaddis a meg nem született gyermekért (Kaddish for an Unborn Child). Kertész was sent to Auschwitz at age 15 and survived in part by lying about his age. He did not recount his story until the 1970's when the regression of Hungarian politics compelled him to share his personal account. This adaptation of Fatelessness premiered with Adam Boncz in New York in 2014. In 2015, Theatre Y began development of with the assistance of Visky, himself a survivor of the Bărăgan, a Communist Romanian Prison Camp, and an internationally acclaimed poet, playwright and essayist as well as the resident dramaturg and associate artistic director of the Hungarian Theater of Cluj. Fatelessness debuted at Rhinofest in 2016 to significant acclaim and has since and will continue its run in intimate stagings in homes, businesses and synagogues throughout Chicago.

"This is the wholly unsentimental voice of a teenage boy: practical, brutally honest, uncomfortable with emotion, and determined to survive. This is not the protagonist we are accustomed to," said Melissa Lorraine, director of Fatelessness and Artistic Director of Theatre Y. "Often his tone is so detached that you are incapable of trusting him and somehow, the result is a fresh encounter with an event that is difficult and crucial to hear again - especially given today's worldwide political climate. If nothing else, Fatelessness must be endurance art: The human pushed far beyond capacity, whose resilience is almost disturbing; frightening."

Fatelessness features Michael Doonan (Voice) and Benjamin Holliday Wardell (Dance), and is directed by Melissa Lorraine with the sound design of Kimberly Sutton.

Doonan has attended the Stanislavski School at Harvard University and participated in Atelier at The Grotowski Institute. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of California at Irvine and has taught acting and movement at The University of California, Irvine and The University of Illinois, Chicago.

Wardell is the founder and creative director of The Cambrians. His career began with The Cincinnati Ballet, where he achieved the rank of soloist before moving to San Francisco to dance with Alonzo King's LINES Ballet. Wardell has also worked with Chicago's Hubbard Street Dance, toured internationally with Aszure Barton and Artists, created work with Ron de Jesus Dance and has been an ensemble member of Lucky Plush Productions since late 2011.

Directed by Melissa Lorraine
Sound Design by Kimberly Sutton
Assistant Directed by Aileen McGroddy
Dramaturgy by Dan Christmann

Performance Details:
Location: Chopin Theatre: 1543 W Division, Chicago, IL 60642
Performances: Thur-Sat at 7:30pm, Sun at 4pm / March 30-April 16, 2017
General tickets are $20, Student/Senior tickets are $15

For details and more information visit Theatre-Y.com; 708-209-0183


About Theatre-Y
Theatre Y was founded in 2006, by actor Melissa Lorraine and director Christopher Markle. The company is steeped in the theatrical traditions of Eastern Europe and is dedicated to the international laboratory to investigative theatrical work with an ever-diversifying group of collaborators from many lands. Theatre Y creates poetic and physical theater, mines the contradictions of the human experience, and challenges audiences to find universally shared meaning. For more information visit www.theatre-y.com.


Imre Kertész

Melissa Lorraine

Michael Doonan (Voice) and Benjamin Holliday Wardell (Dance)

Kimberly Sutton - Sound Design

Tags: Theater, American, 2007