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Arts Eclectic turns the spotlight on happenings in the arts and culture scene in and around the Austin area. Through interviews with local musicians, dancers, singers, and artists, Arts Eclectic aims to bring locals to the forefront and highlight community cultural events.Support for Arts Eclectic comes from Broadway Bank and Rock n Roll Rentals.

'You'll change your idea of who these people are": 'God of Carnage' offers humor and moral ambiguity

Beyond August Productions

“Basically, there's two couples and the son of one of the couples has hit the son of the other couple with a stick and there's been an altercation,” says director Robbyn Conner, explaining the starting point of the dark comedy God of Carnage. “And so the injured child's parents have invited the other child's parents over to calmly discuss the situation, but it obviously does not go as planned.”

“We all become children,” actor Chuck Winkler sums it up concisely.

God of Carnage was originally published 15 years ago, but the theme of grownups being unable to communicate in an adult and respectful way feels pretty of-the-moment. “It's very, very timely in this era,” Conner agrees.

The cast and director say that God of Carnage is all about ambiguity.

“You know, it's funny,” says actor Peter Young. “When I first read it, I had a very clear idea of the show. And then the more I get into it, and the more we've discovered it and picked it apart, there's more and more layers to this that aren't as apparent. And, and it's just made for such an interesting exploration of not only the text but also just how I react as an actor and how I think and listen while I'm on stage.”

“I thought of my character as being one way when I first started reading it and now I see him as being not that way at all,” says Winkler. “And it goes to show that that happens in real life all the time.”

“And I think audiences would probably even see that,” Young adds. “You know, you might get an idea of who these people are at the beginning.But then by the end, you have a different sort of sense of who they are and why they are.”

“I think from page to page even you'll change your idea of who these people are and what they're capable of,” Winkler says.

That’s exactly how director Conner wants things, she says. “That was one of the things that I told the gentlemen when they came to audition,” she says, “is that I want the audience to change who they like. Like one scene, they really like this person, the next scene [they’ll think] that person's awful, I like this person. You know, identifying with each of those characters.”

But moral ambiguity isn’t the only thing God of Carnage has to offer. It’s dark, but it’s still a comedy. “It’s fun [and] it'll make you think,” Conner says. “I think that's what I loved about the script is that it's not just your normal farce. It's funny and there's funny moments but then there's also gut-wrenching moments as well.”

'God of Carnage' runs through August 13 at the Rosette Theatre

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for KUT.org. When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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