Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Gilgamesh" Update

From Ethel:

Below is the wonderful review by the Morning Call, of GILGAMESH that opened last Friday. Pana Columbus, who many of you will know, is the principal writer for Circle of Stones Theatre Company. She is the founder of the company.
This epic story is adapted to Allentown. It is very creative. Let's support Pana and let's support Allentown!
The show is Friday, Saturday at Symphony Hall (6th Street between Hamilton and Linden)8:00 PM. There is a Sunday matinee at 2:30 PM. Tickets are $22 adults. $18 students and seniors. Tickets are easy to get by calling 610, 432-6715 or online
It would be great for them to see you in the audience. Treat yourself to something great after work tomorrow.

REVIEW: "Gilgamesh"
By Steve Siegel Of The Morning Call June 23, 2009

"Gilgamesh," as presented by the Circle of Stones Theatre Ensemble atAllentown Symphony Hall, is an epic drama of transformation. In story,music, dance, and song, it tells the tale of a king's return to grace,a people's regenerated optimism, a city's rebirth.
As an original stage adaptation of the ancient Sumerian legend ofGilgamesh, a great king who ruled the city of Uruk in Babylonia somefive thousand years ago, it is an ambitious and stunningaccomplishment. As a vehicle attempting to draw parallels betweenUruk's transformation and the revitalization of Allentown, it is lessso.
The play is staged much like a classic Greek drama, with past,present, and future superimposed. It is in two acts, each bookended bya scene on a contemporary Allentown street, where two youths (JoseRodriguez and Jocelyn Caballero) meet General Harry Trexler ( GeorgeMiller) who tells them the Gilgamesh tale. While Miller does acommendable job as a fatherly and caring Trexler, his character seemsno more than a segue into the ancient world of Uruk, where the realaction takes place. Our suspension of disbelief is somewhat taxed bythe implication that the two worlds are related.
Uruk and its people are splendidly evoked by simple costumes, modestsets, and dramatic lighting. The huge space of Symphony Hall is usedto great advantage -- the proscenium's sheer height gives the stageddrama epic proportion, and a flower-adorned curtain at the rear of thehall gives a feeling of intimacy.
Much of the play is done in Greek chorus style, where actors are alsonarrators who comment on the action at hand. The actors, many who playmultiple roles, also perform as musicians, at times joining musicdirector and keyboardist Scott Eggert in the orchestra pit. Eggert'soriginal score is an engaging, eclectic mix of recorded electronicsounds, African drums, Asian gongs and singing bowls. The storytellinginvolves many classic devices, such as depicting a voyage by a shadowplay, where characters appear behind a screen illuminated from therear.
Gilgamesh (Tom Byrn) not only rules Uruk, but also the stage. In thismammoth role of an ambitious and arrogant king who is transformed intoa gentle and loving leader, Byrn is superb. He can bellow like a lion,then whimper like a child. He can mix dramatic tension with slapstickcomedy -- his raft-building exploit in one scene is hysterical; hisgrief over the death of his friend Enkidu (Kris Yoder) is deeplypoignant.
Yoder is convincing as the civilized wild man who befriends Gilgameshand shares his exploits. The two form a sort of dynamic duo whosegrowing regard for each other becomes critical for the ensuingtransformation. Part of that transformation involves a meeting withUtnapishtim (Wayne Turney), the Mesopotamian Noah, who combinessadness with humor in relating the tale of the great flood, and a run-in with the goddess Ishtar (Rachael Joffred), whose wrath as a womanscorned is frightening.
The outstanding choreography by Sarah Carlson performs a magic thatspecial effects rarely achieve. Fantastic characters come alive bysheer skill of movement. Scorpion people scamper about menacingly,stone men plod heavily, a snake woman sheds her skin. Dance numbersrange from the wildly erotic to the serenely classical, with one sceneeven performed en pointe.
In between the acts, prominent Allentown citizens from the audiencestand up and speak about the Allentown of the past and what it can bein the future, while on stage large photographs of Hess's departmentstore, The Traylor hotel and the Boyd Theatre are displayed.
It would have been enough, I feel, to let the quality of theproduction speak for itself -- that is, as long as there is supportfor arts and culture of this level in Allentown, the city willprevail.
"Gilgamesh," 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, SymphonyHall, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown. Tickets: $22; $18, seniors andstudents. 610-432-6715,

1 comment:

Joyce Marin said...

A really interesting and important play.