We'll never be able to explain Ubu. Ubu will not be defined... nor confined... what does it mean to release yourself... leaning to one side... and to be free?
In 1982, Free Theatre Chch presented Ubu Roi. Directed by Peter Falkenberg, and designed by Simon Allison, Neil Williams and Bernie Frankpitt the cast featured Craig Hood, Jo Briant, Nick Frost, Robin Bond, Helene Glover, Ruth Jones, Adam Phillpps, Charles Heywood, Rod Dundar and Mark di Somma.
When the name Free Theatre was chosen for the company (after a couple of other options didn't stick) a tradition was acknowledged and a political manifesto proposed relative to here. There was much discussion. The hope was New Zealanders (and those in Chch especially) would respond to a philosophy of pushing boundaries to innovate and experiment. The suspicion was that an old provincial stupor combined with a growing stupefying economic perspective would drown out the hope of change - "hey, you say it's free, so why do I have to pay? That's false advertising mate".
And sure enough, that one has been fired at FT for years, as the market has become entrenched in our everyday lives.
When we say the word 'free' (compared, say, to libre or freie), what springs to people's minds? To be released from expectation, custom, oppression, slavery in search of new hope and possibilities - innovation? Or stuff you don't have to pay for, a bargain, a waiving of cost, the logic of a market where exchange is predicated on growth - 'cos there ain't no such thing as a free lunch - mate?
Freedom, here, is about money... it's about gain.
Yet, every time we question whether we should change our name, when the usual brand-oriented thinking of supporters and critics alike suggests we're shooting ourselves in the foot, we come repeatedly to the conclusion that it is the economic perspective that needs to change not us - and we must continue to work towards this by pointing out its many contradictions and inequities.
For some, this is considered pigheaded and even arrogant. But the truth is that without resisting the supposedly inevitable fate of the market, we have no hope.
Without hope we end up trumped by fear.
Since 2014, Ubu has held court in The Gym... searching for, and hopefully inspiring, hope.
A new production of Ubu Roi is in development for 2017/18...