Friday, October 16, 2009

The Roma of Edmonton

O Patrin did its final performance this morning at the Art Zone in Edmonton. And what a performance it was... The Art Zone houses a classroom for young Roma who don't have school places (why they don't have them was something I didn't discover). They come from Poland and Roumania, and there are interpreters in the classroom with the teacher. The youngsters all have a distinct Roma look, reminding me of Christopher Simpson when he played B in Double Tongue, and making the Indian origins of their people very clear, even after all the centuries. The girls wear long skirts, big earrings and have their hair tied back.

Although they had seen many puppet plays before (they apparently have these every week in the camp in Roumania), many of them had never seen live actors before. The English was something of a language barrier - though the Romany wasn't - but they seemed to understand very clearly what the play was about. Lots of this is down to Dan's physical approach to the direction, with the philosophical conflicts turning into real fights. When Rachel Drazek as Athalia enumerated the horrors perpetrated on gypsy people in the past, there was a real tension in the room. It was these people's families who had been victims of this forgotten holocaust. And the most extraordinary thing was that their response seemed to be gratitude to the actors for caring enough to tell the story.

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