Friday, June 8, 2012

Case Study No. 0370: "Gods, Fate, and a Librarian"

Gods, Fate and a Librarian
Religion, Politics, Destiny...Mystical comical mayhem

Featuring scenes from the play and interviews with Haidee Crowe, Erica Glyn-Jones

Camera: Bart Smithers - Big Film and TV
Editing: Clea Mallinson
Tags: African Theatre Haidee Crowe Erica Glyn-Jones Religion Politics Drama
Added: 3 years ago
From: HaideeFilm
Views: 197

[scene opens on a blank screen]
NARRATOR: In the darkness, a voice spoke ... and it said, "Let there be light!"
[cut to scenes from the play, then the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
HAIDEE CROWE: Well, we decided to write a play about African politics, and about religion. Uh, both are mutual interests of ours, and we did a lot of research ...
ERICA GLYN-JONES: And, of course, it had to be a comedy.
ERICA GLYN-JONES: With those two!
[they both laugh, then cut to another blank screen]
NARRATOR: Then, there was a bang ...
[a tiny "pop" sound effect can be heard]
NARRATOR: A big bang!
[the loud crashing of cymbals can be heard]
NARRATOR: And some chemicals started mushing about, on a rock ...
[cut to the actresses on set (consisting of a white background and two ladders) playing the roles of the two Fates, Past and Present]
PRESENT: Good evening, Gods! We set our scene in a beautiful land, with rolling hills ...
[Past runs behind the ladders, waving her arms up and down]
PAST: Hills! Hills!
PRESENT: We have Mensa Moutata, the glorious!
PAST: Who grows up, to be big and strong!
[cut back to the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
HAIDEE CROWE: We did a lot of reading of newspapers, and reading of different religious books. Um, religions from all around the world, and we got very serious topics.
[cut back to the play]
PRESENT: He's been writing a book ... "The" book!
PAST: "Self-help on steroids!"
PRESENT: Mensa posts the book out the country ...
[Past pretends to be a bird]
PAST: Air mail!
PRESENT: It becomes a world wide sensation, and twenty five years later, we have ...
PAST: Mensa! Mensa!
PRESENT: When you hear these seven words ...
PAST: My choice is my gift to you!
PRESENT: Where is it set?
[cut back to the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
HAIDEE CROWE: People highlighted the religion in Indonesia. Um, one lady wrote to me and she said that it's almost a religious cold war in Indonesia at the moment, with Muslims killing other Muslims because they are not fundamentalist enough. And just that our play was just bringing out religion and how many different religions there are, and--
ERICA GLYN-JONES: So, it's been magic, because we sort of parallel what religion and politics, they're very very very similar themes.
[cut to a scene from the play where the librarian (played by Crowe) is silently praying, then back to the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
ERICA GLYN-JONES: So, it was actually interesting, it was a very turbulent time in Africa. There was an extradition case going on ...
ERICA GLYN-JONES: There was a Zimbabwean election, and all of that kind of seemed to tumble in and go "Tick, tick!" Yes, we were talking about that, let's put that in the play!
HAIDEE CROWE: Yes, yeah. And then it was amazing, our first production performed in Zimbabwe. We had a beatiful, um ... not beautiful, but just the response we got from the audience that people were actually talking about it. They were dealing with the topic, even if it was in a comedy, it was still--
ERICA GLYN-JONES: It was like a huge sense of relief, because I think in Zimbabwe, they've been so silent ...
ERICA GLYN-JONES: And then our timing was perfect with this comedy. It was lovely, actually. That was nice.
[cut to a scene from the play, with Glyn-Jones playing a woman standing trial]
LISA: Yes, uh, Lisa Goodman. MAA ... Well, the letters started by accident, really. My boyfriend, Mensa, threw a surprise party for me. There was the usual talk of politics and campaigning, and then somehow it came up that I had a letter from President Mufaso. I'd written to him when I was seven. Everyone jumped on the idea of writing to statehouse that night. Twenty five letters went to President Mufaso. Funny, long, thin letters.
[cut to another shot of Lisa]
LISA: And there, it would have ended, except ... a couple of days later, I was arrested. For inciting treasonous behavior. Of course, Chris - Mister Super Lawyer - got me out within hours, and the charges were dropped. But I'd learned one very important thing. Those letters had an effect. I have an effect.
[cut back to the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
ERICA GLYN-JONES: South Africa at the Grahamstown Festival had a completely completely different response.
HAIDEE CROWE: That's right, yes. People tended to like the satire of it ... People comparing it to Terry Pratchett, which was wonderful!
[cut to a scene from the play, where the librarian is kneeling and praying]
LIBRARIAN: Thank you, Gods, for today. For the beautiful weather ...
[cut back to the two actresses speaking directly to the camera]
ERICA GLYN-JONES: We ended up with three different levels of stories happening in one play!
HAIDEE CROWE: Yes, and also just the fact that we've taken it to three different countries, performed it in three different countries, and are going to be performing it hopefully all over the world!
ERICA GLYN-JONES: Yes! "Gods, Fate and a Librarian!"
HAIDEE CROWE: At a theater near you!
[they both laugh]



Every now and then the Gods undergo a makeover to accommodate humanity's growing perception of the universe. Since showing themselves to humans tends to result in said humans expiring in a puff of awe, the Gods usually interact with humans using Fate. Or rather The Fates - three very strong-willed women who keep a beady eye on the past, present and future and orchestrate human lives in a manner that best serves the Gods' – and their - overall purposes.

Among the Fates' duties is to orchestrate a smooth changeover during a Godly Makeover, thus avoiding a potential Apocalypse should anything go wrong. As our play begins, one such celestial plan is progressing smoothly, with a heroic Messiah about to introduce a new face of God into the Human realm. For the Fates, it's business as usual. Of course nobody's perfect, and when the next messiah is killed three days too early the Fates have to come up with a new plan fast.

Unaware of the trials and tribulations of their creators and sublime guides, and equally unaware of their impending doom, Humans have their own problems: a lawyer needs to scrape the barrel of religious argument to prevent his client being extradited from the country, the President of Lindiwe plans to declare himself God because it's easier than changing the constitution, and the author of an unpublished book dies in an untimely and unfortunate accident the very day he finishes his final draft.

With a little help from the Fates, all roads lead to The Librarian, to her dismay, as she's already very busy. Due to a chance encounter with a God in her youth The Librarian believes in gods. All of them. Or, to be accurate: in the thirteen thousand seven hundred and forty three that she's managed to read about so far. Worshipping the Gods leaves very little time in the day for anything else, especially a good looking, strangely disturbing lawyer, who happens to believe in no gods at all.

Artistic Direction: Michael Pearce
Written by: Erica Glyn-Jones and Haidee Crowe
Performed by: Erica Glyn-Jones, Haidee Crowe, Lukhanyo Gxshe



Gods, Fate and a Librarian appearing on the National Arts Festival fringe is a two-woman show telling the story of the birth of a new religion and the method as to how that religion comes to power. Set in an "imaginary" country, the play starts with two characters "past" and "present". They are our storytellers who set the scene.

The story is that of trying to bring down the tyrant leader Mafaso Bakaya. With a political mindset the characters create a "symbol" of this religion to incorporate it into the world of politics. The symbol is a banana. They search for a messiah who turns out to be a woman Librarian, who will realise she is the messiah when she eats a special banana and try to help bring down Mafaso Bakaya.

Directed by Michael Pearce, Gods, Fate and a Librarian tackles the subjects of politics and religion, creation, women and belief in a multi-cultural context. The story is told through physical theatre, cut-out pictures, minor drawings, minor puppetry and clever use of two ladders on stage. The music was all-encompassing with a mixture of classical, rock, Indian and Africa, and sound effects were effectively done by the performers themselves.

Particularly exciting was the element of audience participation in certain instances. The overall message of the piece was "Believe ... because with belief, anything is possible".

The actor playing "past" brought a unique energy with excellent physical characteristics in each character. It was a very convincing performance as she slipped into each character with fluidity. The story concluded at the African Union Summit where the Librarian, successfully gets Mufaso Bakaya to eat a poisoned banana and in so doing helped create this new type of existence. A good effort by the performers, with a wide story told in a unique manner.



Gods, Fate and a Librarian
Saturday 17 Jan @ 8pm. Sunday 18 Jan @ 6pm. Catalina Theatre
Dr Maurice J Kort

The Musho International Festival ended on a very high note with a nearly full house of a very appreciative audience for the production from Cape Town, directed by Sam Wilson and performed by the very talented and vivacious Haidee Crowe and Erica Glyn-Jones.

With very much use of two folding aluminium stepladders in all manner of configurations and several props, as well as very imaginative use of their flowing red scarves they enacted a very fast paced fun inspired piece taking a look at three parallel universes, the gods, fate and humanity.

With the opening voice over in the darkened theatre of the clich├ęd Help Desk patter being parodied as "Please wait, your prayers will be answered; your prayers are important to us ....." one can sense the fun entertainment in store. There are then novel takes on how the universe came into being, first via a flash of light and then by means of a big bang.

The action and dialogue are fast and furious and it is not an easy production to follow. Suffice it to say that the two actors portray many roles switching at great speed from one to the other. First and foremost are their portrayals as the Fates. Their effect on us mere mortals is exemplified by their knitting, a dropped stitch having disastrous consequences. And so they exert their influences on the religions, particularly the gods Pangu and Alfasu, as well as, wait for it, the Banana, and the politics of the world, using the African continent and the country of Lindiwe as their starting base. Mugabe is very recognisable.

The librarian, by the simple expediency of throwing the scarf over her head, which is most effective, figures very prominently in the narrative. Thus the tale of Past, Present and Future unfolds.

The performances of "Gods, Fate and a Librarian" were at the Catalina Theatre on Saturday 17 January ay 8.00 p.m. and Sunday 18 January at 6.00 p.m.

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