Aki Pasoulas
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Commentary

Pa Ubu's Dance

[First performed by Polly Bowman (cl.) London 07.02.2003]

The piece is based on the central character of Alfred Jarry's King Ubu play, first staged in 1888 with puppets. Pa Ubu, the key character of the play, is obsessed with the idea of becoming a king. The composition is an investigation of Pa Ubu's character, and does not follow the narrative of the play. A story is made up of a succession of his feelings, inner thoughts and obsessions, which ultimately lead him to self-destruction.

The work is divided into seven sections played in one continuous movement. In the beginning, Ubu's character and his disturbed personality are revealed. Later, his obsessions and confusion of his mind become apparent and are illustrated by echoes. Pa Ubu seems detached for a while, lost in his enjoyment. Gradually, his madness isolates him from the reality; his insanity and seclusion is portrayed by the clarinet's persistent stay on one note. Ubu's portrayal of insanity is followed by blasts of anxiety and display of mania. The last part contains Ubu's catastrophe; it comes with a climax when the clarinet imitates the agony of Ubu-puppet as he is self-destroyed.

Ubu is a living character; he is also a puppet; he is his living obsessions. Ubu rules the piece and he destroys it by destroying himself; a living puppet in a raving world.

2014© A. Pasoulas