the Light is a powerful evening of music, prose and
dance, written by Brazilian performance artist DuCarmo Alexandrino ("Alesh")
in collaboration with Timaeus Egan, reflecting on the complexity and beauty of
life. Alesh tells a story of guidance lost and regained through character acting,
fables and a mixture of Brazilian and Latin American rhythms that weave together
the traditional and the modern in an inspirational call for enlightenment. George
Drance, a member of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory, makes his La MaMa directing
debut with the piece.
The storytelling of "Rhythms
in the Light" derives from a common tradition of politically-repressed
societies, which was awakened in Brazil during government repression of the
1960s. In that time, with the civil government taken over by the military, students
and intellectuals began speaking through double meanings in order to communicate.
Alesh constructs the performance around a central story of a grandfather who
takes his young grandson fishing in a lake where there is a renowned, large
fish that has never been caught. The grandfather catches the creature, then
lets it go, in a metaphor of sharing freedom with the community, understanding
oneself and finding one's place in the world. The boy will grow up with this
image in his head, but it will be a haunted image: after returning to the house,
the grandfather, an intellectual, is arrested. The grandfather has hidden his
notebook inside a straw costume which is a family heirloom. Years later, after
the boy's father and grandfather have both disappeared, he returns to the straw
costume and finds the long-lost notebook, which contains a page with the title,
"Rhythms in the Light.'" He discovers its meaning by dancing in the
costume. It is a lesson in repression versus freedom, personal identity versus
societal duty, tradition versus individualism and political resistance versus
The piece was originally
developed in Brazil but is entirely new in this La MaMa incarnation. It incorporates
traditional Brazilian folk dance, modern dance, singing and characters that
are right off the Brazilian streets. It is performed in English but its songs,
a mixture of folkloric and modern selections, are sung in Portuguese, Spanish
DuCarmo Alexandrino grew
up in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil's third largest city, and has enjoyed
a prolific career as a dancer, singer and actor. He was a student of many
renowned artists including Denise Stoklos and Rufo Herreira. As a singer,
he recorded with the Grammy winning musician and composer Milton Nascimento.
In Brazil, he developed a program called "Multicultural Interarts," which
mixes dance with music and theater and which he has taught to college teachers
there and in other countries. He is presently in the USA on the invitation
of the New School University, teaching this technique. His nickname, Alesh,
is an abbreviation of his last name.
Co-author Timaeus Egan
is a poet, writer, sculptor and painter who works as a graphic artist at AOL-Time
Warner. He lives in New York City and has traveled to and researched Brazilian
music, culture and history for the past 15-years. He has collaborated with
Alesh on a number of productions including "Mysticus Brazilis" and "Vozes."
Director George Drance
has been for six years an actor of La MaMa's Great Jones Repertory. As a director,
he was trained at Columbia University under the tutelage of Andrei Serban,
Priscilla Smith and Anne Bogart. He has also acted at NYSF and ART, Boston.
He directed an English adaptation of Calderon de la Barca's "Life is a Dream"
(the 1677 version) at Marquette University and Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
He worked two years in Honduras with Teatro la Fragua (The Forge Theatre) and
was a founder of Theatre YATU in Nairobi. He has also directed plays at the
Oglala Sioux Reservation in Pine Ridge, SD and was recently appointed an artist
in residence at Fordham University.