Women in Confinement

by María Morrett

 Women in Confinement (Mujeres en el encierro) by María Morett, explores the notion of female confinement as a labyrinth formed by social, cultural, and archetypal structures of repression.  The play focuses on the particular social contract that exists in the microcosm set off from the society-at-large by prison walls, comprised solely of women living “on the edge.”  Inspired by Morett’s work as an acting teacher in the women’s prisons of Mexico City, Women in Confinement reflects its author’s six years of research inside and outside the penal systems of Mexico and Colombia. While speaking to and for all “women in confinement,” Morett’s play directly addresses the ongoing struggle of women living in societies with a strong sexist ethos–societies which, although beginning to grant “space” to women, continue to keep them confined–and illuminates the condition of the Latin American woman who, in the family and workplace, confronts a complex web of social archetypes which shape her personal and professional relationships.   

 

María Morret is a playwright and theater director, fFounder and Artistic Director from Me xihc co teatro and Proyecto Ariadna. She studied with Julio Castillo, Juan José Gurrola, Luis de Tavira, Alejandro Luna, Ludwik Margules, Oswaldo Dragún, Hugo Arguelles and Maria Irene Fornés. She has the Bachelor of Communications by the UNUM and a Certificate in Theater Direction and production by the National School of Theater in México . She has been a member of the Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab from New York since 2000.  She has written and produced more than twelve theater pieces including La Llorona, Mozart y los Duendes, Muerte, la Caja Mágica, Alarconeando, Quijotes: Visiones Itinerantes, Cruces , Mujeres en el Encierro and Ninfa. She also did the translation and adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s “Spring Awakenings” in co production with la MAMA E.T.C., and Me Xihc Co teatro, also she adapted the play “Primero Sueño” and “Amor es más laberinto”from the Mexican poet Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and created the outdoor production of  “Mas Laberintos” that was opened in the Festival Internacional Cervantino in 2003 in Guanajuato. She did the translation from the Jules Laforgue text “Moralidades legendarias” and from the Italian text of the contemporary opera “Lohengrin” composed and written by Salvatore Sciarrino. She has been recognized and honored with grants and awards from the National Fund for Culture and National Council for the Arts from México, Arts International from New York, Ministerio de Cultura de Colombia, and Contacto Cultural/Fideicomiso para la Cultura México/EUA and the Rockefeller foundation; She is a resident artist from Voice & Vision’s Envision 2000 retreat, La MAMA Experimental Theater Club and the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. She has conducted research for the National Institute of Fine Arts in México and for EITALC on the work of the theater artists: Jean Marie Binoche from France; Santiago Garcia from Colombia; and Yoshi Oida from Japan. Her play Cruces was awarded with the Excellence Award for Innovation & Originality in the New York Fringe Festival in 2000. Her play “Mujeres en el Encierro” is translated to English, by Deborah Saivetz and German by Cordelier Dvorak. In 2003 she wrote “Ninfa” for the divan project directed by French artist Michel Didym and opened in the XXXI FIC/INBA. Her most recent work as a director is the Mexican opening of the contemporary opera “Lohengrin” written and composed by Salvatore Sciarrino, presented with success in the VI Festival Música y Escena at the National University of Mexico. In November 2004 she presented her play “Mujeres en el Encierro” at CINARS PLATFORM 2004, in Montreal, Canada and in December she was in an artistic residency in Berlin invited by the Goethe Institute from Germany. In July 2005 she will be in a four months artistic residency in Montreal invited by “Le Centre des Auteurs Dramatiques” FONCA and Canadian government. Her play “Mujeres en el encierro “ is now a part of the season from February to April 2005 at the “Teatro Helénico” at the “Centro Cultural Helénico”.


Asphalt Kiss

by Nelson Rodrigues

As a pedestrian hit by a bus lies dying on a Rio street, a passerby stops to cradle him in his arms and kisses him on the lips as a parting gesture of human solidarity. But the scene is witnessed by an unscrupulous reporter, who proves so successful in convincing a public hungry for scandal that the men were lovers that even the wife of the Good Samaritan comes to doubt his masculinity.

Nelson Rodrigues was born in Recife, Brazil in 1912, the fifth child in a family of 14 siblings. His father struggled as a newspaper reporter for years, and when Nelson was four his family moved to Rio de Janeiro hoping for better times. There the family's fortunes changed as Mario Rodrigues worked his way up Rio's cutthroat newspaper industry until he was able to found his own newspaper. At 13, Nelson began working at his father's newspaper, and by 14 he was writing his own column.

After experiencing a brief period of wealth and stability, the Rodrigues family suffered a series of crushing setbacks. First, older brother Roberto, a brilliant graphic artist, was murdered by a socialite angry over the newspapers coverage of her affair with a well-known Rio doctor. Then, a few months later, Rodrigues' father, despondent over his son's death, dies of a massive stroke. And, shortly after that, the family newspaper is closed by the government after a coup d'etat. These tragedies, plus several others, are to be reflected in Rodrigues' writings and plays.

From his very first play, Woman Without Sin in 1941 (about a society lady who runs away with her black chauffer), Rodrigues shocked and divided Brazilian audiences. He steadfastly refused to veer from his focus on the personal even when it became fashionable to write Brechtian social theater in Brazil, “You have to go down into the depths of man. He has two faces, one beautiful and the other heinous. He will only find salvation if he passes his hand over his face and acknowledges his own heinousness.’”

His second play, The Wedding Gown, is considered a watershed in Brazilian theater as Rodrigues revealed his mastery of his craft by overlapping moments in time and place in order to create a more dynamic vision of reality. The play has been described as a jigsaw puzzle — we are left to interpret the truth from the disjointed hallucinations of a woman lying on an operating table after suffering a serious accident.

From 1941 until 1965 Rodrigues wrote 15 full-length plays (he would write two more later in life). His plays are frequently divided in 3 groups: Psychological plays, Mythical plays and Carioca tragedies. In his Carioca tragedies Rodrigues explored the lives of Rio’s lower-middleclass, a population never deemed worthy of the stage before Rodrigues. The supreme example of this genre is The Asphalt Kiss, a play in which we see a man’s life unravel because of one noble act. “[The play] confronts current-day questions of homophobia and tabloid sensationalism in prophetic fashion,” according to The New York Times.

Nelson Rodrigues also wrote nine novels and thousands of newspaper columns. A collection of his newspaper columns based on his crime reporting recently became a bestseller. He is also considered one of Brazil’s finest sports writers. Rodrigues died in Rio de Janeiro on December 21, 1980. 

MacGregor's Hard Ice Cream and Gas

by Daniel MacDonald

A dying prairie town. A frigid winter night. In a land where the ground’s too frozen to bury a body, Jack hijacks his dead father up to the attic and stuffs his coffin with ice cream to chill. His brother Fred tries to host a wake without a body and fix a sign advertising gas they have never sold, while their mother paces in the basement counting every step, and their estranged sister shows up 10 and a half months pregnant. MacGregor’s Hard Ice Cream and Gas is a play of whimsy, humour, and remarkable humanity about a family figuring out how to melt the ice and move on.

 

Daniel MacDonald is a teacher, playwright, and actor. MacDonald teaches both university and high school where he has collaborated with students on several plays. MacDonald has taught, coached and performed improvization throughout his career and one of his high school teams won the Canadian National Improv Championship in Ottawa. MacDonald's play, Pageant premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects’ National PlayRites Festival and recently had its American premiere in Austin, Texas. Another play, MacGregor’s Hard Ice Cream and Gas recently  premiered at Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon.  His new play, Velocity recently won the New Works of Merit playwriting contest in New York and received a reading there in April. MacDonald is currently collaborating on two projects: an original Saskatchewan film entitled, Redemption which will air in January, 2006 and a musical enititled Johnny Zed about the legendary Rock and Roll star who got his power from the uranium mines of Northern Saskatchewan. Daniel has acted in several films and TV series and is current president of the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre. 

Oil Town

by Hillel Mittelpunkt

In an outpost of sorts in the Sinai Desert, a survivor of Hitler’s death camps runs a pension together with her married and but un-benounced widowed daughter. She is indebted to every bank, and so takes on a wanna-be Madam and two whores. Her lover, a retiree still hanging on to work in the army, steals food for her kitchen. One day a young man arrives and reveals he is looking for a new life to escape his former life as a cardshark. The old woman realizes she can make money of him, and convinces her daughter to use him. He falls in love with the daughter, wins enough money to buy them out of debt when the daughter’s marital status is revealed to him. Whereupon he looses all the money and leaves. The bank takes possession of the pension, and the doctor hangs himself upstairs while the old woman rejects marriage to the retiree.

Golda Maier is about to visit the outpost, when the daughter together with the retiree buys back  the pension, challenging the mother. The mother leaves, the retiree leaves, and the daughter ends the play as a whore. 

Requiem

By Hanoch Levin

 The Old Man, a coffin-maker in the small town of Poopkah, has been married to his wife, the Old Woman for fifty-two years, but it is not until she falls deathly ill that he begins to contemplate what their life together could have been. They travel to the nearby town of Kloopkah to seek help from the Medic, hitching a ride with the Wagoner, but the Medic, lazy and overwhelmed with requests, can only offer powders and compresses to fight off the flu, typhoid and malaria. The Old Man and Old Woman return home with nothing and the Old Woman soon dies and is taken away by three cherubs. For the rest of the play, this scenario of death continues. The Old Man soon meets a Mother of seventeen with a sick baby. They travel back to Kloopkah, again thanks to the Wagoner, whose wagon is alternatively filled with whores or drunks. The Medic can’t help the baby, it dies and is taken away by the cherubs. The Old Man again contemplates death, life and the higher purposes of the universe. Then he is taken ill himself, he visits the Medic and the Medic denies him adequate treatment. As the play ends, the Old Man dies and is taken away by the cherubs.

Guest of a Few Days

by Moshen Yalfani

Among the dire symptoms and consequences of the Islamic Republic of Iran, one was the coup de grậce on the concept of revolution itself.  The last generation of fighters and strugglers —– that over a span of century and a half had lived with the dream of achieving a social order based on reason and justice and had idealized revolution as the ultimate instrument for the realization of such an order—– this selfless generation, on the day after the revolution, was driven from the threshold of humanity as guest of a few days.

 

Mohsen Yalfani was born in 1943 in Hamadan, Iran. He wrote and staged his first plays in his last year of high school, and submitted one to the Center for Dramatic Arts in Tehran, for which he won a prize. At the age of 18 he moved to Tehran and joined the independent Anahita School of Drama. In 1970 he wrote his famous play The Teachers, which was staged in Tehran. After ten nights the performances were stopped by the Shah’s “SAVAK” and Yalfani was arrested and spent three months in prison. All of Yalfani’s plays were then prohibited from being staged, and he was unsuccessful, for many years, in publishing or staging any of his work. In 1974, while rehearsing Maxim Gorky’s Les Petites Bourgeois with the Iran Theatre Society, Yalfani and the entire cast and crew were arrested, and he was imprisoned for four years. While in prison he translated the book The Voice Of Actor, by Cecily Bery  and wrote his one-act play On the Beach.  In 1978, Yalfani and a thousand other political prisoners were released. From that moment forth Yalfani spent most of his time as an active member of Iranian Writers Association and twice (in 1979 and 1981) was elected as member of the board of directors. In 1981, the Iranian Writers Association was attacked by the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the association was closed down. In 1982, Yalfani crossed the border and left Iran, in disguise, and sought political asylum in France. He now lives in Paris. During his long exile in France he has penned several one-act plays, two long plays, a film script, and a number of articles, and he has collaborated with a friend in publishing the periodical Landscape. The English translation of one of these plays, Guest of a Few Days, was well received in Chicago, in December of 2004, in a staged reading by Silk Road Theatre Project (Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director). 

Artigoshe

by Mohammad Miraliakbari

Artigoshe is written based on the eternal work of Sophocles; however, with distinctive differences in form and structure. Its structure is rather close to picaresque, but completely free of its special literary rules. But why "Artigoshe"? The letters "r", "t", "g" and "sh" were of most important letters, used a lot in ancient Persian.

 

Mohammad Miraliakbari was born in 1975 in Tehran. Miraliakbari received an M.A. in Dramatic Literature from Azad University of Tehran and started his professional career by directing short films; however, after sometime quit it for good and turned to theatre.Miraliakbari's passion is for play writing where he is looking for a new structure in the art. Artigoshe, his last work, attracted much attention in Mah Festival when it was premiered. He has directed about 15 short films and 5 theatre productions, and has written about 10 plays. 

Sound and Fury

by Mehrdad Rayani Makhsous

The following refrain is repeated throughout the performance:
"Sentence: Execution (death penalty), Say Your Last Words." 

The play is the life-story of three prisoners in three episodes. Each of them narrates his life in one of the episodes with the help of the others.

The First Episode is about a young middle-class boy who is punished in school falsely accused of eating beetroots in class. As a consequence, his father throws him out of the house. Years later, he gets a bus and … is executed!

The Second Episode is about a young poor boy who falls in love with a girl. When he goes to her house as a suitor, he finds her alone. She serves him some tea, and … executed!

The Third Episode is about a rich boy whose parents attempt to keep him away from social turbulences. Therefore, they imprison him at home, but he is so eager to be with others and find answers to his questions. He leaves home and becomes familiar with two guys who make him stick political posters on city walls, and … executed!

 

Mehrdad Rayani Makhsous was born in Tehran in 1971. Makhsous is a director and playwright and received an MA in Artistic Directing and a B.A. in Dramatic Literature. Makhsous is a member of the academic staff of Azad University (Tehran), and a board member of the National Iranian Theatre Critics Association of Iran. Rayani's career in the field of drama initiated when he was a teenager; and up to now, he has written about 20 plays – 6 of which already published. Makhsous is also the Director of the 2nd MAH National Theatre Festival – the second greatest theatre festival in Iran and has written and/or directed some documentary series for television such as "The Quest", "The White Hut", "Human Being, Theatre, and Time" for television.