"His story draws us deep into an Africa is traditional, animist, impregnated with Islam,
shaken by colonialism, and torn apart by internal strife. Starting with a tiny disagreement
over the meaning of the number 11 as opposed to the number 12, merciless conflicts arise
that lead to massacres, to martyrdom. These tragic events create a chain that eventually links
a small African village to the highest political decisions of the Second World War." 1
I profoundly value Peter Brook's creations.. He's the same playwright/director who presented the 4 hour film The Mahabharata, (adapted from his 9 hour stage play), which I had the privilege of seeing at Cinema 21 more than 15 years ago. I find good theater (and it's sister art, film), to be deeply transformative and necessary to the cultural health of our communities and nation. The proliferation of "reality" TV shows says it all: the public has become bored and inured to the increasingly outrageous images, Brook further elaborates on this same theme in the play's program note:
"Theater exists to reopen all comfortable convictions. It has the best weapons for breaking
taboos and smashing barriers. These are scandal, violence, and ridicule. But not today. Not
any longer. The "shock-effect" cannot hold us any more, it is so close to daily life that it has
become quite ordinary. Today, our urgent need is elsewhere, It is to catch glimpses of what
our lives have lost. The theater can give us a fleeting taste of qualities long forgotten."2
Some of these long forgotten qualities can be found in community-based theater/events like Revels, Public Dreams in Vancouver, B.C., and here in Stumptown, City Repair. Most of these are free, and family friendly ; take an hour, or a day, and re-vitalize your connections to your family, friends, and neighbors. It's good for the soul.
1 Peter Lamborn Wilon, "Making Room for the Mystery : Peter Brook's Tierno Bokar", pg. 90-91, Parabola, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2005.
2 Peter Lamborn Wilon, "Making Room for the Mystery : Peter Brook's Tierno Bokar", pg. 88, Parabola, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2005.