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March 2006

All The World's Stage Directions

The Players:

Koffi Kwahulé, from the Ivory Coast

Lenin Al-Ramly, from Egypt

Zdenka Becker, from Austria

Leung Shing Him, from Hong Kong

Jon Fosse, from Norway

Chong Mui Ngam, from Hong Kong

Buddhadeva Bose, from India

Philip Boehm, from the U.S.

Klaus Pohl, from Germany

The Setting: On an empty stage, in a virtual space, the cast of this drama gathers for the first scene of their respective plays to be presented simultaneously....

Koffi Kwahulé's Little Stain introduces a mischievous spirit, the son of lightning, who visits a bourgeois family frozen in their own domestic drama while watching television in Africa.

Lenin Al-Ramly's A Peace of Women presents Aristophanes' Lysistrata redux, with a chorus of women denying their husbands their affection during the current war in Iraq.

(Aside: Liesl Schillinger interviews Ellen Stewart on her own wild Classical cycle, Seven.)

In Zdenka Becker's Scent of Wheat, an aging poet muses on the role of writers during wartime, the Balkan conflict, art, beauty, sex, trauma, God, burying someone you love, and unfinished translations.

Seven, by Leung Shing Him, portrays a misogynist Hong Kong real estate agent and his victim, a girl implicated in the crime, trading perspectives in a sophisticated thriller.

Night Sings Its Songs, by Norway's leading playwright Jon Fosse, takes us deep into one fateful night where a young man and woman, in a relationship haunted by unfulfilled desires and ambitions, try to reconnect.

Alive in the Mortuary, by Chong Mui Ngam takes us to Uganda, where a doctor and a poet debate the relative value of the poetic and the scientific in a mortuary.

Buddhadeva Bose's The Ascetic and the Courtesan presents an ancient Hindu legend of a drought, an ailing king, and the royal marriage intended to reverse the fortunes of the kingdom.

Philip Boehm's Zeke is a postmodern response to Franz Kafka's story "A Report to an Academy," in which the grandson of an educated ape muses on Americana.

And Klaus Pohl's Canary illuminates various facets of the diamond district in New York City.

Credits: The lion's share of the plays selected for this issue were curated by Theatre Without Borders, an informal, voluntary group of theatre artists around the world.

from Night Sings Its Songs
By Jon Fosse
“You just lie there lie there just lie there and read”
Translated by Sarah Cameron Sunde
Our Holocaust
By Amir Gutfreund
The Holocaust extended its reach beyond the neighborhood. Traces of Shoah lurked in the most surprising places, like the little shops where Dad went to order wallpaper or buy light bulbs. He often took…
Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen
Life is full of unexplainable things. But, moreover, it is full of me. To be better heard, I repeat, ladies: it is full of me. From this you will deduce that I too am one of those unexplainable things,…
Translated from Romanian
from Canary
By Klaus Pohl
My God, that’s some stone. I’ve never held a diamond this big in my hands.
Translated from German by Lucie Pohl
from A Peace of Women
By Lenin El-Ramly
This is a time of sex strikes, and women are in such a short supply.
Translated from Arabic by Hazem M. Azmy
from Alive in the Mortuary
By Chong Mui Ngam
25 years of war, aren't you sick and tired of it?
Translated from Chinese by Candace Chong
from The Ascetic and The Courtesan
By Buddhadeva Bose
Cropless the fields, childless the wives, day after day an emptiness—no rain.
Translated from Bengali by Sankalpo Ghose & Jyotirmoy Datta
Drama Queen: An Interview with Ellen Stewart
By Liesl Schillinger
Ellen Stewart founded the LaMaMa Experimental Theater Company in 1961, and her groundbreaking vision helped establish the careers of Sam Shepard, Philip Glass, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Wilson, Mabou Mines,…
from Soul of a Clone
By Philip Boehm
Many of you probably debated whether I should exist at all...
Carnival Life
By Gisèle Pineau
to Chantal LapicqueGilda had been elected Miss Haute-Terre in 1987. Thirteen years ago already . . . The memory of a glorious one-year reign that she would evoke whenever her present life made anger well…
Translated from French by C. Dickson
A Report to an Academy
By Franz Kafka
Esteemed Gentlemen of the Academy!I feel honored by your invitation to present the academy with a report on my former life as an ape.I am afraid, however, that I will be unable to comply with your request.…
Translated from German by Philip Boehm
from Little Stain
By Koffi Kwahulé
I am the son of lightning, I've come to burn down this house.
Translated from French
from Seven
By Leung Shing Him
Time: 2004 Place: In a corner of West Kowloon Characters: Voice – the “inner voice” of various main characters Tze Seun Wong – real estate agent, about 50 yrs old, deals mainly…
Translated from Chinese by Joyce Hau
from The Scent of Wheat
By Zdenka Becker
What kind of part can a writer play in a war? Exactly the same one as during peace.
Translated from German by Eugene Sampson