A song The Kingston Trio sang years ago included these memorable lines: “The whole world is festering with unhappy souls/ The French hate the Germans; the Germans hate the Poles/ Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch/ And I don't like anybody very much.” They go on to encourage us to find a way to live together, or “someone will set the spark off, and we will all be blown away.”
Yes, I've been thinking a lot about Bosnia. I believe so firmly in the power of theater to transform lives that I naturally look to theater to find an answer for the anger and the hatred.
Enter the Multi Ethnic Theater. Founded in 1992, MET, according to Artistic Director Lewis Campbell, “is dedicated to developing multicultural harmony and appreciation. We bring together artists and audiences from a large variety of cultures and a wide range of economic status.”
Rather than colorblind casting, Campbell describes MET's efforts as “color-creative. We often ignore racial reality in creating family relationships.” The creativity extends to casting against gender, and to casting actors with disabilities. The result, says Campbell, is an acting company that “is a celebration of multiculturalism in a pluralistic society.”
The respect for multiculturalism is reflected in the choice of plays as well. Selecting plays for both entertainment and social relevance, Campbell and his company design a season that serves “to showcase a multiethnic company of actors breaking stereotypes.” MET doesn't throw out the canon of great drama; it insists that the canon reflect the plurality of both actors and audience. I have to think that MET's deliberate choice to work for multiethnicity represents real courage, and it gives hope for the future.
For information about MET's current production, Sarajevo Voices and Euripides' The Trojan Women, running through Dec. 9, call 550-8161. Theater transforms, but only if you go.
If you need a laugh or several — and after Sarajevo Voices, my guess is that you will — you might check out True Fiction Magazine, an improvisational theater ensemble (the only one in town that confects minimusicals from audience suggestions) that runs at Magic Theater through Dec. 16. Call 824-1559. (See review in Stage Listings, Page 37.)
And if you are seriously depressed, the New Pickle Circus opens at the Cowell Dec. 9. Call 392-4400.
By Deborah Peifer