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Ubu Roi. Alfred Jarry. Alfred Jarry. 1873 - 1907. Plot Summary. Pa Ubu rises to power when he is egged on by his wife to assassinate Wenceslas, the King of Poland, and to take his crown.

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ubu roi

Ubu Roi

Alfred Jarry

alfred jarry

Alfred Jarry

1873 - 1907

plot summary
Plot Summary
  • Pa Ubu rises to power when he is egged on by his wifeto assassinate Wenceslas, the King of Poland, and to take his crown.
  • He then grows insanely tyrannical and despotic - killing nobles and taking their lands, giving out money so that people will pay their taxes and not revolt against him, then demanding that taxes should be paid twice over, leaving the people with no money.
  • In his rise to power, however, he failed to kill Boggerlas, one of King Wenceslas' sons, who fights against him to regain the crown.
  • He is aided by Captain Macnure, who betrays Pa Ubu, and enlists the Russians to help restore the crown to Boggerlas. The play ends with Pa and Ma Ubu fleeing back to France, their homeland.
aim of ubu roi
Aim of Ubu Roi
  • to escape the

rational confines

of bourgeois


Pa Ubu

initial reactions ambivalence
Initial Reactions: Ambivalence
  • first staged in Paris,1896
  • riot ensued
  • violently booed and applauded
  • compared with the work of Shakespeare
  • dismissed as a poor joke
  • called an inspiration to modern youth

Ma Ubu

why audience rioted
Why Audience Rioted
  • vulgarity, cruelty, and obscenity
  • theatrical equivalent of an ‘‘anarchist’’ bomb attack and as an act of political subversion
  • in no way constituted a ‘‘serious’’ piece of literature or of theater but rather a gigantic hoax
parody the means of attacking the powers that be
Parody: The Means of Attacking the Powers that Be
  • the classics
  • theatrical conventions
  • the middle class and their customs
  • religious, political, and social institutions
the theater of that time
The Theater of that Time
  • entertainment that catered to a bourgeois public, anything but a place for experimentation
  • dominant model was the well-made play, a tradition of technique over content
  • growing trend toward realism in the theatre
  • realistic theater was supposed to make the audience 'believe' in ways that they had never been asked to before
ubu no holds barred
Ubu: No Holds Barred
  • embodies stupidity, brutality, and ferociousness
  • conceived as hideous, grotesque, with a pear-shaped head, practically no hair and an enormous, flabby stomach
  • symbolizes everything that was pushy and piggy about the bourgeoisie
  • represents the uncontrolled unconscious forces
jarry s theater characteristics
Jarry’s Theater--Characteristics
  • fascinated with the possibilities of theatrical space (the theatrical "spectacle")
  • relatively uninterested in dialogue, story-lines and character development.
  • draws upon puppet shows and plays performed by marionettes
  • attempts to create a flat or two-dimensional theater ("an ABSTRACT theater") by using placards to announce the time and location of the dramatic action and to take the place of scenery and on-stage crowds

Ma and Pa Ubu

origins of the play high school prank
Origins of the Play: High School Prank
  • was initially a simple schoolboy satire written when Jarry attended the Lycée de Rennes
  • made fun of Jarry’s physics professor, who was "an enormously fat, ridiculous and ineffectual figure"
  • embodied everything that Jarry was growing to hate―the world's first truly unredeemable character
  • burlesques Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Richard III to tell the story of Ma and Pa Ubu's rise to power
theatrical innovations breaking with tradition
Theatrical Innovations—Breaking with Tradition
  • staccato manner of speaking
  • the misplaced accents
  • the puppet-like movement
  • the use of masks
  • the use of placards
  • the hodge-podge style of scenic painting
use of the mask
Use of the Mask
  • to reinforce the impression that the actors on stage were actually "man-sized marionettes“
  • to frustrate the ambition of the actors to be stars
  • to frustrate the desire of the audience to escape from its own situation and identify with its own particular vice