A New Work from Sandglass Theater
Available for touring Autumn 2017
Conceived by Eric Bass and Ines Zeller Bass
Directed by Eric Bass and Roberto Salomon
Designed by Ines Zeller Bass and Jana Zeller
Music by Brendan Taaffe
Performed by Shoshana Bass, Keila Ching, James Gelter, Terrell Jones, Kalob Martinez
BABYLON: an ancient city in what is now Iraq. Its ruins lie 59 miles southwest of Baghdad. This fallen mythic civilization becomes, for us, a metaphor for the destruction and destabilization that is leading much of the world into a refugee crisis of mythic proportion.
SANDGLASS THEATER’s new production is a response to this crisis. Working with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, we are understanding the challenges that face refugees: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Babylon looks at the relationship of refugees to their homelands, lost and new, and the conflicts that exist within the countries to which they flee. We have interviewed resettled refugees in order to gain first hand insight into their plight, trauma and the challenges of resettlement. All our lives are changed by this migration. In Vermont, the town of Rutland’s announcement that it will accept 100 Syrian refugees has been met with vitriolic racist opposition. This is a vital conversation in all communities, whether they are directly impacted by newly resettled refugees or not.
Using puppets and moving panoramic scrolls, we tell the refugees’ stories in original four-part choral songs that give the texts a formal settings. We work with simple means, not much more than someone could carry with them as they flee. Our show is portable and accessible to simple venues, in order to be able to play in diverse spaces and communities. Babylon is performed by five actors/singers/puppeteers.
The puppets are seven refugees at a metaphorical hearing about their need for asylum. Their stories intertwine. One of the refugees is a ghost. One is a voiceless caterpillar. The others come from Syria, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Burundi. In Babylon, the blending of actual testimony with unreal figures gives us a view into how we respond to the enormity of this crisis. Babylon also explores our own attention spans, how capable we are to stay interested in the duration of someone else’s journey – one that does not necessarily end with the arrival in a new land.
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