A LIVE BIRD IN ITS JAWS
Volume 21 Number 4
Spiritual emptiness and mundane rituals are central themes in the two finely Grafted plays by actor/writer/teacher/director Harry Standjofski. In twenty scenes, twenty characters come face to face with their own unhappiness, the lack of interpersonal communication, unfulfilled dreams and much more. Real-life issues are looked at from a unique viewpoint.
In Anton (fifteen scenes; three males, four females), Standjofski spoofs Chekhov's Three Sisters, complete with an invisible cherry tree and a Russian émigré. Suzanna, Paulina and Maria are sisters trapped in their inherited family mansion because they can't agree on selling it. As the play unfolds they realize that the house is more important than the family, that no matter how much they curse the world or use love-making to try to forget, money can't buy happiness.
No Cycle, a cycle of five stories after the classical no theatre of Japan, is equally haunting. "Rabbit" (God Play), "Six Little Dreams" (Warrior/History Play), "Still" (Woman Play), "Seagull/Her" (Madwoman Play) and "And" (Auspices Play) is for five performers (two men, three women). Using the structures of highly religious drama, Standjofski depicts a time of spiritual poverty where "the death and resurrection of Christ is celebrated with a bunny hiding chocolate eggs around your house."
The urban mythology presented in these two plays is personal, universal, symbolic, amusing and disturbing, and mirrors real life. The book is highly recommended for those who are willing to accept the explicit language and explore their own urban myths.
A Live Bird in its Jaws by Jeanne-Mance Delisle, winner of the 1987 Governor General's Award for French Drama, is a Freudian menage a trios "stretched and twisted into a kaleidoscope of sexual intrigues." Unadulterated passion, cruelty and desolation dominate the lives of Helene and two brothers as they prepare to perform a fable-play about two brothers she has written.
This multi-level play is very provocative yet very disturbing and is therefore not recommended for a high school library.
Gina Varty works in the Audio Visual Educational Library, United Church of Canada, in Edmonton, Alberta.
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