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8456: Re: 7457: Haitian Play being mounted in CA (fwd)

From: Mark Schuller <marky@umail.ucsb.edu>

My partner and i just saw it last night.  It was one of the most amazing plays i have ever seen!  

The story was very human.  The humanity and individual personalities clearly came through.  Toussaint was wise, deliberative, torn between two worlds.  Dessalines was fierce, brave, honest and passionate.  Christophe was proud, cautious, strategic and a lover as well as a fighter.  All of them had tragic flaws which would prove to be important in the future: Toussaint's ambivalence and softness toward the French, Dessalines' definition of freedom as power and his brutality, Christophe's vanity and his defintion of freedom as wealth.

What was most amazing to me was the amount of accurate historical detail, complete with subtlety and nuance, that was imbedded in the narrative - which was very mesmerizing.  For example, some of the Haitian characters spoke with a French accent while others spoke with a Dahomey/ Yoruba accent.   Intersperced with the powerful statements about slavery and freedom, the play also took place in France and the colonial government center.  The staging took you in the middle of the action, where the audience, black as well as white, felt a part iof the history in the making.

And it was so heart-rending!  I was in tears at the end of Boukman's ceremony, while everyone had left.  Toussaint said, "It is time to believe in a God, any God because only Gods can help us now."  And proud of the new Governor-General and his new constitution.  My partner, who i deliberately didn't inform about the end of the story, was visibly moved, devastated: "I don't think i will ever get over the loss of Toussaint."  What a great way to inform the world about the Haitian Revolution!  We spoke for three hours about it afterward (we were surprised to find out that it was four hours long!  It really didn't seem that long!)  Haunting us after the production was over were Touissaint's last words, "the roots are strong and deep!"

As a less experienced and younger playwright, i can truly say that Levy Lee Simon is a master of his craft.  He is inspiring.  The production was incredible, every last detail!  Hats off to the Riobey theatre ciompany!

I wiould recommend seeing it if possible, or asking your local theatre company to stage it.  I might be able to get contact information when i send the LA Times review of it.