Thursday, 29 April 2010

11 and 12

A really impressive lesson in storytelling from Peter Brook at The Rose this evening as his meditation on religious tolerance 11 and 12 came into town.

Set in Colonial Mali in the 1930s a local dispute amongst the Sufi community over whether to repeat a prayer 11 or 12 times is manipulated into violent confrontation by the divide and rule tactics of the French imperialists.

The work of course has a contemporary resonance in its suggestion that our lack of understanding about Islam and the speed with which we seek to comment on religious practice fuels the fires of Western prejudice rather than promoting tolerance and diversity. Ultimately the play is a call for intelligence and meditative reflection rather than active intervention.

Brook as ever delivers his points with crystal clarity, poignant calm. Spectacle in this work is linked to style rather than, as in so much contemporary theatre, to pace or production effect. In itself this approach becomes a metaphor for the play's central message. Each actor seems to create the aura and space in which to consider his words and refine his actions. It's simple and self-assured theatre. Rather beautiful and captivating, all accompanied by the haunting music of Toshi Tsuchitori's under score.

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