Soulographie: Our Genocides, a cycle of 17 plays ranging in length from 20 minutes to two hours, all by Erik Ehn, each theatrically exploring the causes, effects, and various forms that genocide has taken in the 20th century, will be presented by La MaMa at the Ellen Stewart Theater, November 11-18. Over 80 theater artists from across the globe will participate.
The plays, currently in production at theaters across the United States, Poland and Uganda, take a range of forms: from Bunraku to Noh to docudrama to dreamscapes. Erik Ehn, who heads the playwriting department at Brown, has spent over 20 years travelling the world to explore the subject and the varied ways genocide is enacted: from the wholesale killings in Rwanda to Hitler’s extermination of the Jews to parental cruelty of children to the impact of the traumatized imagination to the race riots in Tulsa. Inspired by the works of Goya and Picasso’s “Guernica,” for Ehn, our daily acts of innocent or conscious cruelty prepare us to accept or ignore the potential–and at times, invisible–infiltration of genocide within our society.
Commemorating victims of genocide throughout the world, the series of 17 plays is introduced by “Every Man Jack of You” in which Jack, a recurring figure in the cycle, takes off for a drunken spree in Las Vegas. The series concludes with “Forgiveness,” a play exploring a couple’s journey of transformation from blame to loving acceptance of each other after their son’s death in a car crash. In between are 15 plays that conflate historic events, and real and invented characters to reveal the effects of genocide through the perspectives of survivors, perpetrators and other witnesses to the horror.
Each of the plays will be performed twice over the seven days, culminating in marathon sessions on the final weekend, Saturday and Sunday, November 17 & 18. These marathons will include discussion sessions designed to add additional dimensions to the cultural, political, emotional, psychological and spiritual issues raised by the plays.
In addition to his academic work at Brown University, Cal Arts, and other schools, Erik Ehn’s plays have been produced in San Francisco at the Intersection, Thick Description and Yugen; in Seattle at the Annex and Empty Space; in Austin at Frontera; the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland; RedCat in Los Angeles, Kolonus Theater in Lithuania and Meteor Festival in Norway, among others.