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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.

From “Little Stain”
By Koffi Kwahulé
I am the son of lightning, I’ve come to burn down this house.
Translated from French
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
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 “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
From “Seven”
By Leung Shing Him
If he hadn’t asked for me, then everything that followed wouldn’t have happened.
Translated from Chinese by Joyce Hau
From “Night Sings Its Songs”
By Jon Fosse
“You just lie there lie there just lie there and read”
Translated from Norwegian by Sarah Cameron Sunde
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
From “Soul of a Clone”
By Philip Boehm
Many of you probably debated whether I should exist at all…
A Report to an Academy
By Franz Kafka
I feel honored by your invitation to present the academy with a report on my former life as an ape.
Translated from German by Philip Boehm
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