When Trees Move and Women Burn.
World Music Theatre Performance on the Move
by Yara Arts Group
Directed by Virlana Tkacz
“Fire. Water. Night” by Yara Arts Group adapts spring and summer rituals into a World Music Theater piece that moves throughout the lobby, risers and playing areas of La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre, reveling in the imagery of the spring thaw, of awakening forests and of midsummer fire rituals. The work, conceived and directed by Virlana Tkacz, interweaves performances in English and Ukrainian, including fragments of Lesia Ukrainka’s verse drama, “Forest Song,” poetry from Native American, Canadian and American authors, dance and song. It features a score by electronic music composer Alla Zagaykevych, traditional ritual songs from Ukraine and raucous dance music by Toronto’s Lemon Bucket Orkestra. The experience is highly visual and musical and is completely accessible to all audiences, who are free to travel around the space with the performance and integrate themselves in the spectacle of the show.
photo credit: Tuda Sarain
MORE ABOUT THE SHOW
This modernist interdisciplinary work draws upon pre-Christian rituals to juxtapose our primal link to nature with our increasingly high tech existence. The main characters are trees who react to humans as they first enter the forest and start changing the landscape, tearing at the fabric of life. The piece follows Sylph, a forest nymph, who falls in love with Luke, a human. The evening begins in the Ellen Stewart Theater’s lobby with songs of winter ice and the coming of Spring floods. It moves into the space under the theater’s risers, where the audience “walks through the river.” There the audience is introduced to our cast of trees and the forbidden love of Sylph and Luke begins. Action spreads from the top of the risers to the far end of the playing area as summer peaks with solstice songs. As humans rejoice in this fiery time of love, trees react with horror. The audience is led back to the lobby, where Lemon Bucket Orchestra bursts forth with joyous, carnivalesque, gypsy-rag-tag-punk super band music in a joyous “swamp party” that ends the first act. In the second act, the mood shifts as wild nature is “cultured.” A field replaces the forest as imagery from a silent 1930s movie by Alexander Dovzhenko is projected and Nature is mechanized, then digitized.