WORLDPLAY 2016

February 13th:  Body Indian  by Hanay Geiogamah 

                                                          (Kiowa & Delaware Native American)

                                                        Directed by Naomi Simpson

February 14th:  Between Life and Death

                                                   by Gao Xingjian  (China)                                                                                                               Translated by Gilbert C. F. Fong

                                                     Directed by Julian Cervello

February 19th:  Terrorism  by The Presnyakov Brothers  (Russia)

                                                   Translated by Sasha Dugdale         

                                                      Directed by Wendy Merk

 

February 20th:  603  by Imad Farajin  (Palestine)

                                         Translated by Hassan Abdulrazzak

                                         Directed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét 

WORLDPLAY 2016

February 13th:  Body Indian  by Hanay Geiogamah 

                                                    (Kiowa & Delaware Native American)

                                                  Directed by Naomi Simpson

Body Indian

In Body Indian, first produced in 1972 and published in 1980, Hanay Geiogamah illustrates the warring forces of self-destruction and survival instinct that he sees in the American Indian (Geiogamah's preferred term). Taking place in a small impoverished apartment outside the Oklahoma reservations, this play is a microcosm of the life of the American Indians as they strive to survive and cope with their world and their weaknesses. On the surface Body Indian can easily be interpreted as a simple commentary on the Indians' long-running battle with alcoholism, but at its core lies a defiant Indian spirit refusing to give up on survival.

Hanay Geiogamah

 

Although he fills many roles -- director, producer, screenwriter, editor, teacher, and mentor -- Hanay Geiogamah is mainly recognized as the most important Native American playwright of the late twentieth century. In his plays Geiogamah strives to portray contemporary American Indian life for both Indians and non-Indians. Geiogamah was born in Lawton, Oklahoma to a Kiowa father and Delaware mother. He graduated from Anadarko High School and studied journalism at the University of Oklahoma. He later received his Master's degree in theater from Indiana University Bloomington. Following his graduation, he landed a job as the public affairs liaison for Commissioner of Indian Affairs Louis Bruce within the Bureau of Indian Affairs under President Richard Nixon. In late 1971, Geiogamah formed a theater group at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York City's Lower East Side. His first play was Body Indian in 1972 followed by Coon Cons Coyote and Foghorn. The group produced his final play 49 in 1975. He founded the 16-member American Indian Theatre Ensemble in New York City in 1972, which was the first company to perform Native American plays for Indian people.  In 1980, Geiogamah became the author of New Native American Drama: Three Plays, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.  Geiogamah later formed the widely acclaimed American Indian Dance Theatre, which gave its first public performance in 1987 with Geiogamah as its director and Barbara Schwei as its producer. The 24-member dance troupe represented about 18 Indian nations and toured both nationally and internationally. The dancers wore a variety of traditional costumes, and the music was performed on traditional instruments made by the performers. The group made their New York City debut in 1989 in Manhattan's Joyce Theater. Geiogamah serves on the National Film Preservation Board established in 1988 as an advisory body to the Librarian of Congress' National Film Registry.  From 2002 to 2009, Geiogamah served as the director of the UCLA American Indian Studies Center and was a founder and co-director along with Jaye T. Darby, Ph.D. of "Project HOOP" (Honoring Our Origins and Peoples), a national, multi-disciplinary initiative to establish Native theater in tribal colleges, Native communities, K-12 schools, and mainstream institutions.

Naomi Simpson has been an active member of the Victoria Theatre Community for over a decade. She recently directed the acclaimed Theatre Inconnu production of In The Next Room (or the vibrator play), but is perhaps better known for her work on stage playing a wide variety of roles. Selected local acting credits include: True West, Uncle Vanya (Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre), Copenhagen, Simon Stephen’s Pornography, The Crackwalker (Inconnu), The Beauty Queen of Lenane, Dancing at Lughnasa, Pack of Lies (Langham), One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Three Penny Opera (WhoS), and just last summer in Puente Theatre and SNAFU's critically acclaimed co-production of Lieutenant Nun. When not acting, Naomi can often be found playing country music in various taverns, bars and festivals.

February 14th:  Between Life and Death

                                                   by Gao Xingjian  (China)                                                                           Translated by Gilbert C. F. Fong

                                                     Directed by Julian Cervello

Between Life and Death is a haunting story of one woman’s recollections at the end of her life. Told through monologue, dance, and images the play utilizes a fragmented approach to character, with two performers playing the primary role – dancer and actor, and delves into modern themes of identity, alienation and the desire for redemption.

Gao Xingjian is a Chinese émigré novelist, playwright, and critic who in 2000 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature “for an oeuvre of universal validity, bitter insights and linguistic ingenuity.” He is also a noted translator (particularly of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco), screenwriter, stage director, and a celebrated painter. In 1998, Gao was granted French citizenship. Gao's drama is considered to be fundamentally absurdist in nature and avant-garde in his native China. His prose works tend to be less celebrated in China but are highly regarded elsewhere in Europe and the West.  When Gao Xingjian won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, he became the only Chinese writer to achieve such international acclaim. The Chinese University Press is the first publisher of his work in the English language. Indeed, The Other Shore is one of the few works by the author available in English today. The Other Shore: Plays by Gao Xingjian contains five of Gaos most recent works: The Other Shore (1986), Between Life and Death (1991), Dialogue and Rebuttal (1992), Nocturnal Wanderer (1993), and Weekend Quartet (1995). With original imagery and in beautiful language, these plays illuminate the realities of life, death, sex, loneliness, and exile. The plays also show the dramatists idea of the tripartite actor, a process by which the actor neutralizes himself and achieves a disinterested observation of his self in performance.

Gilbert C. F. Fong is professor of the Department of Translation, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and heads several research projects, including the history of Hong Kong drama, movie and television subtitling, Gao Xingjian, and translated drama. An acclaimed translator, he translated many plays, including works by Gao Xingjian, winner of the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature, into English.

Julian Cervello is a local actor at the beginning of his directing career. He is the artistic director of Scrumpy Theatre which has produced three plays by Geoffrey Chaucer, entirely in Middle English: Canterbury Cocktails, The Wyf of Bathe*, The Friar versus the Summoner, also Two Person Othello, Hanna Moscovitch’s Essay*, a staged reading of Eugene O Neill’s domestic tragedy, A Long Day’s Journey into Night*, and Boiler Room Suite. Selected acting credits include Lieutenant Nun (Puente & SNAFU), War of the Eagles (Kaleidoscope), The Crackwalker, Pornography, In the Next Room or The Vibrator Play (Inconnu), Macbeth (Tempest), Joyful Noise (Peanut Butter People), No Such Thing (Blood Orange), Our Town (Soulpepper).

*Directed by Cervello

February 19th:  Terrorism  

                           by The Presnyakov Brothers  (Russia)

                           Translated by Sasha Dugdale         

                            Directed by Wendy Merk

Terrorism

 

Writing plays is a delicately negotiated compromise between the subtleties of literary ambition and the pragmatic limitations of the stage. On the evidence of Terrorism, the Presnyakov Brothers negotiate with style. It has a brutal elegance, the kind of brilliantly nuanced crudity which heralds notable theatre. The play opens with a bomb scare at an airport that sparks a banal discussion between three passengers on the nature of terrorism. Terrorism, we are told, gains its power by its reasonlessness: anyone might be its target, and being an innocent civilian is no protection. Its only aim is fear, by which we are manipulated and controlled...  

 

'A play with this title has an obvious resonance right now. But the extraordinary thing about this deft and brilliant piece by Siberia’s Presnyakov Brothers is the way it extends ... This is a play about the breakdown of society in contemporary Russia. What astonishes is the cool, sardonic wit that the Presnyakov brothers bring to their task ... beautifully realised in Sasha Dugdale’s translation ... Russian society may be in disarray, but, on the evidence of this and the recent work of Vassily Sigarev, a sense of dislocation yields first-rate drama' - Guardian


'A bitter, funny, penetrating look at the toxic effects of living with fear. Terrorism isn’t about victims or perpetrators or one savage act. It’s a series of takes on a society broken by horror and suspicion, turning against itself ... Terrorism shrugs off more ideas in quarter of an hour’s wit than most political debating plays do in an evening' - Observer

The Presnyakov Brothers are writers, playwrights, screenwriters, directors, theatre producers, and actors. The sons of an Iranian mother and a Russian father, Oleg was born in 1969 and Vladimir in 1974. Both brothers graduated from the same school: M. Gorky Urals State University in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast. Until recently, they were both also on the faculty of that same university: Oleg in literary theory and philology, and Vladimir in literary theory and psychology. Together, the two founded the university’s Youth Theatre, "Theatre under the name of Christina Orbakaite", an organization committed to producing experimental theatre work.

Oleg and Vladimir also write in tandem; all their plays are presented and published under their chosen joint name: The Presnyakov Brothers. Students of language, the Presnyakov brothers are praised in Russia for their attention to natural-sounding speech, dialogue that sounds “overheard on the street.” Their cool, sardonic wit enlivens their plays, and together, they create bitter and funny examinations of life in a post-Soviet Russian culture.

Sasha Dugdale is a poet, playwright, and translator, born in Sussex, England. She has worked as a consultant for theater companies in addition to writing her own plays. From 1995 to 2000, she worked for the British Council in Russia. She is author of the poetry collections The Estate (2007), Notebook (2003), and Red House (2011) and has translated Russian poetry and drama, including Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.

Wendy Merk graduated from the Theatre Department of the University of Victoria, and went on to produce, write, direct, and act in plays, musicals, operas, and film in Victoria and Toronto. Now a permanent resident of Victoria, as a director, Wendy is notorious for her offbeat productions of Gilbert and Sullivan, including HMS Pinafore, The Gondoliers, Ruddigore, and Pirates of Penzance (complete with bobbies on bicycles). She also likes to direct classical plays with a twist, often casting women in male roles particularly in her work with the Victoria Shakespeare Festival: Much Ado About Nothing, Lysistrata, and The Tempest. As an actor, Wendy is famous for her high-spirited characterizations, including 'Ruth' in Pirates of Penzance, 'Buttercup' in HMS Pinafore, 'Mother Courage' (title role), and 'Mother Superior' in Nunsense.

Wendy’s most beloved singing telegram character is 'Helga the Opera Viking'. She has also created and managed the Coventry Carollers for over 20 years.

February 20th:  603  by Imad Farajin  (Palestine)

                                        Translated by Hassan Abdulrazzak

                                        Directed by Mercedes Bátiz-Benét 

603 brings us to the core of the Israeli justice system where we meet Palestinian prisoners Mosquito, Boxman, Slap, and Snake as they cope with ten years of incarceration, and the uncertainty of when, if ever, they will be released. In cell 603, imaginations run wild as our four prisoners take refuge in fantasy in an attempt to escape the crushing realities of history.  Have their then-heroic acts become pointless?  Are the walls really moving?  Is madness the only escape? If and when freedom comes, will they know it?  Will they trust it? 

“Through Farajin’s beautifully drawn characters we are reminded in the most distressing way of the insanity created by confinement, but also of the unbending will to survive, and the vigor of resistance in its many forms.” – Nathalie Handal, from the introduction to Inside/Outside: Six Plays from Palestine and the Diaspora

Imad Farajin worked as an actor for nine years and started writing plays in 2002. He studied acting at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. He performed in Al Kasaba Theatre’s Alive from Palestine: Stories Under Occupation, which was devised by the company and has toured throughout the world. In 2007, he won the Qattan Foundation’s Young Writer’s Award for his play Chaos. His play 603 was presented as a staged reading at the Royal Court Theatre in November 2008 and at Al Balad Theatre in Amman, Jordan, in February 2009. Since then, a production of 603, directed by Manal Awad, has toured various theatres in the West Bank, as well as Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Imad also writes extensively for television. Within Palestine, Farajin may be better-known as the writer of controversial satire series Homeland on a String, aired on Palestine TV, which provoked angry responses from Hamas officials in 2010. Farajin, however, insisted at the time that his work mocked the Palestinian Authority as much as Hamas, and that political satire was a vital vehicle for public debate in Palestine.

Hassan Abdulrazzak is of Iraqi origin, born in Prague and living in London. He holds a PhD in molecular biology and has worked at Harvard and Imperial College. Hassan’s first play Baghdad Wedding, was staged at Soho Theatre in 2007 to great acclaim. It went on to have productions in Australia and India and was also broadcast on BBC radio 3. Hassan’s play The Prophet was performed at The Gate Theatre in 2012 and was based on extensive interviews in Cairo with revolutionaries and soldiers, journalists and cab drivers. More recently he was commissioned by the Kevin Spacey Foundation to write Dhow Under The Sun, a play for 35 young actors, which was staged in Sharjah, UAE (Jan 2015). He was also commissioned by Untold Theatre to write Catalina, the story of the Moorish slave of Catherine of Aragon (Ovalhouse Theatre 1-4 April 2015). His comic monologue play Love, Bombs and Apples was selected out 114 scripts to be part of the PlayWROUGHT3 festival and was staged at the Arcola Theatre (July 2015) as part of the Shubbak festival. His short play Lost Kingdom was selected out of 75 scripts to be part of San Francisco's Golden Thread ReOrient 2015 festival. His essays have been published in the Guardian, the Edinburgh Review and Al-Ahram Weekly. His poems have been published in Snakeskin and in We Are Iraqis: Aesthetics and Politics in a Time of War edited by Nadje Al-Ali and Deborah Al-Najjar. He is currently working on a number of theatre, TV and film projects.

 

Mercedes Bátiz-Benét is a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and award-winner director. She was born and raised in Mexico and in 1997 she moved to Canada. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing in both poetry and drama, and a BA Honours in Philosophy from the University of Victoria, as well as a Diploma in Film Production from the Pacific Film & New Media Academy. Productions of her work include Faust: Ignis Fatuus, at the international festival Faustfest, Shining Through, Lágrimas Crueles, El Jinete, A Mariachi Opera, Cruel Tears/Lágrimas Crueles, a Puente and Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre co-production, and as co-writer, The Umbrella, The Secret Sorrow of Hatchet Jack Macphee for The Caravan Farm Theatre, The Erotic Anguish of Don Juan with the Old Trout Puppet Workshop, and Puente Theatre’s Gruff. In 2014, Mercedes won the Canadian Stage Award for Direction at the SummerWorks Festival with her play El Jinete, A Mariachi Opera. She is the poetry, fiction, and non-fiction editor at Bayeux Arts, and the artistic director of Puente Theatre.

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