NOR THE CAVALIERS WHO COME WITH US written and performed by Frank Cox-O'Connell, Megan Flynn, Marc Tellez and Evan Webber, directed by Daniel Mroz. Presented by One Reed at Factory Mainspace. Aug 3 and 13 at 8 pm, Aug 5 at 5 pm, Aug 6 at 6:30 pm, Aug 8 at 11 pm, Aug 12 at 9:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
There's a conquistador, a subtle or not so subtle colonizer, in all of us, argues Evan Webber.
A member of One Reed Theatre collective, Webber and the rest of the company, recent grads of the National Theatre School, are polishing Nor The Cavaliers Who Come With Us, a fascinating work that parallels Cortez's conquest of the Aztecs with the tale of a modern tourist in Mexico caught up in an understated form of cultural domination.
"Collective creation struck a chord for us in school and gave us the freedom to explore," says Webber.
A blend of text, music, movement and visual surprises, the play doesn't require direct audience participation but invites viewers to get involved by their very proximity to the action. Some of the seats for the Factory production will be onstage, within touching distance of the cast.
The contemporary side of the story came from Webber's own travels in Mexico.
"It's impossible to travel to another country and separate yourself from colonialism, from having more power than the occupants of the place," he suggests. "The challenge with the show is making it about more than that uncomfortable awareness. How can someone do more than consume an experience?"
The two central figures suggest a change from old-style conquest to that of today.
"Cortez is locked in the experience of being a conqueror. His identity is intricately bound up with that archetype. The tourist figure is a more passive participant. That doesn't absolve him, but in that passivity is the possibility for realizing what's actually going on. Unless you realize that actions have repercussions, there's no chance of change."
Balancing the two men is La Malinche, the Aztec woman who became Cortez's partner.
"She's the heart of the story for me. Given conflicting nicknames in the history books, Malinche is seen by the Aztecs as a traitor and whore who sold her country. The tourist meets a woman who functions in a parallel way, as someone acted upon by others.
"This female figure acts as our guide into both worlds." Megan Flynn plays the two female characters in Nor The Cavaliers.