This is just the beginning.....

....of my writing about Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's MYTH, which I just saw at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. I made the pilgrimmage alone on a wing and a prayer. I've been reading about his work for years and this is the first chance I've encountered to see his work. It could be disastrous. All this idealizing and I could have totally bottomed out with a stinker -- but this is no stinker. In fact that word shouldn't come close to descriptions of this show. Although a few people left about half an hour into it....

...What a thing they missed.

"Real people" and their shadows trapped in a library. Walls have slippery doors that the shadows slide, twist and tease their way through. Their movements have no bones. Like shadows they have clear edges but physics don't seem to apply to them. The "real people" search through their personal myths and stories to make sense of the swirling beasts around them, they are possessed, they reason, they cry, they sing.

Singing and music-making descends from the rafters where 8 musicians are perched. A six-foot man in drag tap dances with a team of shadows. Two women fight inside one giant white hoop skirt. A shadow rebels from its owner tearing at her as she tears at him. A baby cries for his maman as he contorts in softly flops across the floor. His maman looks for her maman among her library-fellows, ignoring the baby she has just delivered.

What truly broke my heart was a quote from Henry Miller that was projected across the top of the set for "chapitre 3":

"All growth is a leap in the dark."

Anyone who knows me well, knows I am obsessed with Miller's work, philosophy, life. What followed the projection of this quote was somehow a summation of my hopes and fears of life.

I could only go along for this amazing ride. I can't say I understood all the action, but I did not feel I needed to. I felt the logic of the director/choreographer, though I could not palpate it. I felt the struggle of the shadows and their people though their individual stories were obscured.

Shadows obscure the true colour and shape of things, but meanwhile reveal the shape of other things. Another projected quote was "The sun has never seen its shadow".

After MYTH, it feels like maybe the shadows have seen, and felt, everything.

To be continued....


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