Probably few audience members know the story told in Ek Qatra Khoon (A Drop Of Blood), Dora-winning Ashwatthama JD's solo show brought back by Rasik Arts. It concerns the death of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala 13 centuries ago. When Husayn refused to pledge loyalty to the Umayyad caliph Yazid, he and his family were slaughtered by Yazid's forces.
Blending Urdu verse and English text, Ashwatthama (a Hindu who views Husayn as a symbol of contemporary relevance for his bravery and humanity) offers an eloquent 90-minute performance based in epic storytelling and poetic recitation. Passionate and charismatic, the actor creates atmosphere not only with his voice and presence but also with such simple props as candles and red roses.
The show draws parallels between Husayn and Christ, both visually and narratively. It has a spiritual resonance for some, too; the tales of self-sacrifice drew sobs from the audience.
If there's a problem, it's one of language. When Ashwatthama gets caught up in the performance - he co-translated the text with Rasik's Sally Jones - his speed increases and the text can become unintelligible.
But not understanding the words doesn't diminish the work's theatrical power. You only have to listen to the actor reciting the Urdu poetry, with its ritualistic, incantatory rhythms, to experience the narrative's drive.
See Continuing, page 95.
Though some commemorate World AIDS Day (December 1) as a Day Without Art, the Theatre Centre celebrates it with the annual Block In One Spot. Curated by Cathy Gordon, the evening begins with a carnival of interactive booths, including a human petting zoo, a public confessional, a box of surprises and other sexually positive attractions. Clinton Walker, Erika Hennebury, Melissa D'Agostino, Lisa Pijuan-Nomura, Katie Kehoe and Evan Webber are some of the participants.
Then there's an inter-art cabaret with, among others, Sherri Hay, Chad Dembski, Laura Nanni, Susanna Hood, Evalyn Parry, Bruce Hunter and special guest filmmaker Mike Hoolboom.
Throughout the evening, look for exhibits and events to commemorate artists with AIDS.
See One-Nighters, page 92.