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Darkness: The Enemy Inside

Tuesday, November 20, 2019

UNCW’s Theatre Department debuted their production of the Scandinavian collectively-written play, Darkness: The Enemy Inside. The evolution of this work is fascinating: 30 playwrights from 15 different countries created Darkness as they reacted and responded to one another’s contributions. According to UNCW Professor and Production Director Paul Castagno, “The theme "Enemy Inside" refers to issues within the individual and collective psyche when all cradle to grave issues have been taken care of – as is the case in most Scandinavian countries. These can lead to depression, suicidal tendencies, neglect of parental responsibilities, and abuse. Further, the underlying oppression of the dominant culture is played out against indigenous northern peoples such as the Sami, where lands and resources have been exploited and decimated, leading to climate change: an issue in the play.”

Tale Næss, an Italian-born Norway resident, served as the dramaturg and head playwright for Darkness. During its conception, Næss kept a close eye on the many moving parts of this production. She had a hand in writing, translating, editing, and assembling this work. Næss states in an interview with UNCW Dramaturg, Charles Grimes, “The play reminds us that nature is not something that we live on, but in. That it is a force to be reckoned with, as people immediately notice when the storm strikes or the land is flooded… Maybe that is the underlying critique in this play. A critique of our own ability to be in dialogue with the world we are living in, so we have turned it into an agent, even given it “a voice.” This is hard to do in a plot-based realist play but effortlessly easy in a language-based play where anything – even a streetlamp or a ghost – can come to life through language.”  

UNCW’s Marketing and Communications Specialist for the Office of the Arts, Emmanuel Mitcham attended the November 17th showing and offered a compelling testimony to the complexity of this production:

“I am by no means a qualified theater critic, but I will try my best to describe my experience seeing Darkness: The Enemy Inside. Even though I read a brief description, I entered UNCW’s Mainstage Theater more or less unprepared for what I was about to witness. When it comes to plays, I feel that I have been conditioned throughout my life to expect a sequential chain of events with at most one or two narrative voices. This is simply not the case with Darkness; I can best interpret it as a call and response of artistic souls, that gradually amplify in intensity as they resonate off of one another. What starts off as an innocent romp through the woods, transpires into an amalgam of stories that dredge the deepest, darkest corners of the human psyche. After a while, I abandoned my traditional sensibilities and just started self-reflecting. It was in this more vulnerable and intimate frame of mind that I felt I could best appreciate the performance. Darkness: The Enemy Inside isn’t just a stage production, it’s a visceral experience. I would be remiss if I did not give a nod to the phenomenal stage presence of the student actors. From the vivacious and mischievous forest animals to the resentful, brooding husband and wife – spectacular performances all around! I highly encourage anyone that missed out on the first run to see it this week!”

Don’t miss the final showings of Darkness: The Enemy Inside, November 21-24 on the Mainstage Theatre in the UNCW Cultural Arts Building. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $12 for senior citizens, UNCW employees, and alumni, and $6 for students. They are available for purchase online, at the ticket desk in Kenan Auditorium, or by calling (910) 962-3500.