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VIU theatre professor explains ‘Theatre of the Grotesque’ in colloquium talk

Leon Potter to discuss theatre movement and upcoming VIU production
VIU theatre professor Leon Potter is presenting a colloquium lecture on ‘Theatre of the Grotesque.’ (Photo courtesy Shimon Photo)

In anticipation of his next theatre production, VIU professor Leon Potter is presenting an introduction to the play and its genre.

This spring Potter is directing an adaptation of the 1956 play The Visit by Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt.

The play follows a rich woman who returns to her destitute hometown, promising to bring wealth to the town and its people on the condition that her ex-boyfriend who still lives there is killed.

Potter said the situation and the response by the townspeople are typical of the Theatre of the Grotesque, a post-First World War theatre movement that he will be discussing on Jan. 14 in the first VIU Arts and Humanities colloquium lecture of 2022.

“When you think of ‘grotesque’ you think of monsters or gargoyles and wicked characters like that, and that’s not actually what ‘grotesque’ is about,” Potter said. “‘Grotesque’ is about people who have basically been turned into puppets to follow into these absurd situations and end up going along with them.”

Potter said he’s interested in the genre as a fan of dark comedy. He said comedy can “enlighten” topics in a way serious situations can’t.

“With comedy, we have the ability to laugh at something. In order to laugh at something, you have to step outside of that scenario and see it from a different perspective,” he said. “So in using laughter to create a point and bring a point across, oftentimes it becomes more clear.”

WHAT’S ON … Leon Potter colloquium lecture A Brief ‘Visit’ Into the Theatre of the Grotesque at Malaspina Theatre, VIU Bldg. 310, on Jan. 14 at 10 a.m. Presentation will also be held over Zoom. For a link, click here.

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