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All The World's Stage Directions

March 2006

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.

A person lies on a pink couch in a dim theater
Photo Credit: Jim Baldassare, photo of Louis Cancelmi in the US Premiere production of Night Sings Its Songs by Jon Fosse, directed by Sarah Cameron Sunde, set by Lauren Helpern, lighting by Roma Flowers.