Conceived and created by Sandglass Theater
Directed by Eric Bass and Roberto Salomon
Designed by Ines Zeller Bass
The Ensemble: Shoshana Bass, Keila K. Ching, Terrell Jones, Kalob Martinez, Divyamaan Sahoo
Puppets by Ines Zeller Bass with Jana Zeller
Crankies by Ines Zeller Bass and Jana Zeller
Songs composed by Brendan Taaffe, lyrics by Eric Bass
Percussion score by Julian Gerstin
Artistic Collaboration Molly Gawler
Choral Director Becky Graber
Immigration interviewer Keeley Eastly
Voice recording by Finn Campman
Projection and Sound design by Maria Pugnetti
Set building Zak Grace
Technical Direction by Jamie Keithline
Conflict Transformation Training John Ungerleider
Created in cooperation with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program:
Amila Merdzanovic, Director
Laurie Stavrand, Program Officer
The game of Refugee Journey created by Laurie Stavrand in collaboration with Jana Zeller (design) and Sandglass Theater.
photos by Kiqe Bosch
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.
For BOOKING contact
(802) 387 – 4051
As a longtime admirer of Sandglass Theater, I very much look forward to working with the company again, bringing their timely piece Babylon to Portland, Maine. As a city with a significant community of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers – Babylon will resonate deeply. Sandglass’ puppetry is exquisite both in form and the powerful emotion it evokes. As The Village Voice once remarked: “That Bass can conjure so much history and soul out of a two-foot puppet is its own mystery….” I whole-heartedly agree. Again and again I am also awed by the sensitivity and nuance Sandglass brings to difficult subjects. This expertise will be brought to bear once again in the telling of the immigrant story. At its core, this is a story about the endurance of the human spirit. However, we also recognize how the topic of immigration has become charged and politicized. We need Sandglass, the power of their art, and the magic of puppetry to have this conversation in our community.
With great respect,
Aimée M. Petrin
Executive & Artistic Director