Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Please note: the photo shown above is Pill, seated, appears with Jeff Daniels in David Harrower's play Blackbird at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York. (Joan Marcus/Manhattan Theatre Club) and NOT the cast from Hong Kong.

Background –
Two years ago David Harrower's devastating play Blackbird thrilled and shocked audiences at the Edinburgh International Festival. This controversial production, directed by the legendary German director Peter Stein wowed the critics and transferred to London where it won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. Hong Kong audiences will now have the chance to see the play's Asia premiere directed by Toronto's Jovanni Sy and starring one of Canada's leading stage performers Ashley Wright alongside Hong Kong's award-winning actress and director Bonni Chan. Blackbird is a brilliantly written, powerful and provocative two-hander about the reunion of a middle-aged man and a woman, with whom he had a sexual relationship when she was twelve years old. The man was sent to jail and on his release assumed a new identity and began rebuilding his life. Fifteen years have passed. She has thought of nothing else and on discovering a photo of him in a trade magazine, she sets out to find him, with shattering consequences.
-by Theatre du Pif

Good slave had finally gotten to see David Harrower’s Blackbird for the Asia premiere, with such an intriguing and brave story line, good slave had very high expectations -
The devastation of being in an unforgiving love, the manifestation of the dissent and foreseeing its catastrophic nature… the returning of the perpetrator-victim chain and passionately bind together, with ephemeral joy in every recollections and doubts, love imprint upon the pathological self…

When good slave is in ecstasy (having high hopes) as in love, good slave writes scribbles as above and it normally ends in devastation. Good slave had walked into a disastrous site, a masterpiece of writing eradicated by weak casting. The over-exaggerated acting, with intentional jittering of speeches and purposeless gesture/facial expressions, conversations became lost soul drifting and loosing its pivoting depth. In the midst of rubbles (i.e. conversations), good slave was in despair. During the attempt to reconstruct David Harrower’s glory from the ruins, “the writing of disaster” by Maurice Blanchot came to good slave mind. Good slave was staring at the words displayed inside the subtitle box, and trying to replace speeches with words, a solemn silence replaced the living presence... until the reconstructions from those traces (written words from the subtitle box) became certain divinity that spoke from the absence, the oracle revealed itself - the glory of David Harrower’s writing, of silencing of background noises (jittering speeches from the actress) that filled the lost soul with hope and abyss…

Director’s Notes -
What drew me to Blackbird is the bravery of David Harrower’s writing.

If you were to put one hundred adults from anywhere in the world together in one room, it is overwhelmingly likely that all one hundred-regardless of race, age, gender, or political philosophy – world agree that the sexualization of children is morally reprehensible. Yet in the face of this, David Harrower takes one of the last taboo subjects and dares to question what we almost unanimously hold to be true.

Harrower succeeds in doing this by refusing to make Blackbird an “issue play”. With this subject matter, it would be all-too-simple to write a morality take. But Harrower steadfastly refuses to give his characters easy labels; no one is evil or innocent, perpetrator or victim.

In fact, Harrower hasn’t written a play about child abuse at all. Blackbird is an achingly painful love story between two damaged souls. Abuse just happens to be the incident that binds them irrevocably. Harrower neither condemns nor condones their past actions. He is more concerned with exploring the complexities of the human heart. He asks if it possible for a middle-aged man to truly love a child.

But it is not enough for Harrower to challenge conventional wisdom. Just as we, the audience, are gaining new perspectives on the nature of love, Harrower subverts our expectations once again in a shocking, visceral manner.

It’s not merely the subject matter that makes Blackbird such a brave piece of writing. With his Spartan verse, Harrower strips his characters bare. Blackbird is a masterful layering of codified language. At the start of the start of the play, Ray and Una first address each other with carefully rendered masks of normalcy. By the play’s end, old wounds are reopened, fifteen years’ worth of bottled-up rage and hurt are brought to surface. Blackbird demands that its actors expose their deepest fears and insecurities for all to see.
-by Jovanni Sy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good work, keep on :))