‘30 Days of Confinement’ addresses social issues with satire

By Chase Myers

One of the perks of successful shows on Broadway such as “Wicked” or “The Book of Mormon” is that they are original pieces for a theater, allowing the original vision of the production to be seen.

So far this production season, the Kleinau theater has had the same advantage.

Continuing the season with its second production of the year, the Kleinau opened Thursday with “30 Days of Confinement,” an original piece written, directed and compiled by the Kleinau’s very own JJ Ceniceros.

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Social issues such as detainment, immigration, bureaucracy, punishment systems and institutions are addressed through absurdist theatre and satire in the production.

“I sort of conceptualized these characters and then just let the characters do the work, and the way those characters came out and interacted with one another just let that humor come out,” Ceniceros said.

Ceniceros’ previous experience with lights and behind-the-scenes work also allowed for self-sufficiency and full utilization of the space.

“It’s one thing to watch a show, but its another thing to experience a show,” he said. “I wanted to create an experience, not just a performance.”

The setting of the production is Ranasana Institute of Corrections, a fictional facility that houses people accused of crimes, specifically in the workplace.

Ceniceros also used the space to his advantage while writing the piece in such a way that the crowd is involved with the storyline.

“We tried our best to sort of have this experience of being put in this detainment center, but also witness it,” he said.

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With a cast of only six characters, each role brings a different personality to the production and address issues through specific dialogue.

“A lot of the things I say as Linda are really vessels for the message I think JJ is trying to get across,” Savannah Palmer, a graduate student from Auburn, Alabama studying fine arts said. “I think it’s really tastefully done.”

The production also marked the first theatrical performance of some of the cast members, including the lead role of Joseph, played by Simon Rousset, a graduate student and teaching assistant in the school of arts and communication from France.

“I really enjoyed working with the directors and the cast,” Rousset said. “It’s my first time performing, but they made it easy and have been really understanding trying to work with us.”

Being a cast member at the Kleinau can also be somewhat intense because of how quickly the rehearsal process is, he said.

The cast and crew started working on “30 Days” at the beginning of October, ironically providing only around 30 days of preparation.

“It is tough because we have other things going on, but its also a good way to see and to be someone else is kind of interesting for an hour or two [a day],” he said.

Ceniceros worked very close with his assistant director Karthiga Devi Veeramani. They merged two different worlds on-stage: the world of theatre and internationality.

“The script really resonated a lot with my experiences as an immigrant to the United States,” Veeramani said. “It immediately became so personal for me to be a part of this process and to explore and see characters on stage resemble people in my life.”

Veeramani was born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore before moving to the United States, and is currently a master’s student in the Communications Studies Department.

“30 Days of Confinement” poses the problems with bureaucracy and punishment, leaving the audience to question just how corrupt things can become once confined.

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