THE WARRIOR'S SISTER

The First Floor Theatre
March 5 - 21, 2004
Thursday - Saturday 8:00pm
Sunday Matinee 3:00pm

created by Virlana Tkacz, Sayan and Erhena Zhambalov
translation by Sayan Zhambalov, Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps
music by Emilio China
set, lights and costume design by Watoku Ueno
movement shaped by Shigeko Suga
photo by Alexander Khantaev
featuring: Andrew Colteaux, Bayarto Endonov, Hettienne Park, Eunice Wong, Meredith Wright, Victor Zhalsanov, Erzhena Zhambalov and Sayan Zhambalov


THE WARRIOR'S SISTER, the newest work by Yara Arts Group, is based on an ancient Buryat Mongolian epic song about the sister of a legendary warrior who puts on his armor when he is killed. This World Music-Theater piece includes fragments of the epic performed live by Buryat artists from Siberia in the traditional throat-singing style, while Yara artists perform in English. Virlana Tkacz directs.

The production follows the Yara Arts Group style of dramatizing ancient myths with movement, world music, and songs sung in many languages. This time, however, the show is based entirely on a single poetic text. “Alamzhi the Warrior with the Eagle Eye and His Sister Aguy Gokhon” was recorded from the great story teller Yolbon Shalbykov August 18-20, 1903 in the Ust-Orda Buryat Region near Lake Baikal in Siberia. It has been translated for the show into English from Buryat Mongolian by Sayan Zhambalov, Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps. The cast includes four performers from Buryatia, two of them being Honored Artists of the Republic, and New York members of Yara Arts Group.

THE WARRIOR'S SISTER is being created in rehearsals by director Virlana Tkacz and Buryat artists Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov. Set, lights and costumes are by Watoku Ueno, Yara’s resident designer and founding member, who is an NEA/TCG award-winning designer. Movement is by Shigeko Suga. Photographs are by Siberian photographer Alexander Khantaev. Music is by Emilio China, composer, violinist and founder of popular NY rock band Nyqwill. It features traditional Buryat music and throat singing by Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov, Victor Zhalsanov, and Bayarto Endonov. The sister of the warrior is played by Eunice Wong. The cast also includes Yara artists Andrew Colteaux, Hettiene Park and Meredith Wright.

The piece is multilingual but is easily accessible to English speaking audiences.

Director Virlana Tkacz heads the Yara Arts Group and has created fourteen original theater pieces with the company, all of which had their American premieres at La MaMa. She is the author with Sayan Zhambalov and Wanda Phipps of the prize-winning book Shanar: Dedication Ritual of a Buryat Shaman in Siberia (Parabola, 2002).

Sayan and Erzhena Zhambalov have worked with Yara Arts Group since 1996. They live in the Buryat Republic in Siberia and are considered the premiere artists of their generation. They perform as the band "Uragsha" with Victor Zalsanov and Bayarto Endonov. They have played traditional Buryat Music at the Museum of Natural History, the Knitting Factory, and twice to sold-out auditoriums for the World Music Institute. Reviewing their work in "Circle" for Rhythm Magazine, Michal Shapiro wrote, "The next time someone tells you that the Yara Arts Group at La MaMa is putting on a show, go see it! It isn't often that one can enjoy such a satisfying evening of Theatre perfectly fused with music. This is what good art is all about--exhilarating, uplifting and entertaining. And for the world music lover, it is a feast of gorgeous singing, authentic costuming and masterly instrumentals."

Yara Arts Group created "Circle" at La MaMa in the spring of 2000 as a World Music-Theater work with artists from the Buryat Republic in Siberia. The Village Voice (Eva Yaa Asantewaa) called it "a stunningly beautiful work (that) rushes at your senses, makes your heart pound, and shakes your feelings loose."

Founded in 1990, Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa, creates original pieces that explore timely issues rooted in the East through the diverse cultural perspectives of the group's members. Yara artists are of Asian, African, Eastern and Western European ethnic origin. They bring together poetry, song, historical materials and scientific texts, primarily from the East, to form what one critic described as "extended meditation on an idea." The company has created seven pieces based on materials from Eastern Europe including: "A Light from the East," "Blind Sight," "Yara's Forest Song," and "Swan." The New York Times (D.J.R. Bruckner) called one of these pieces, “Waterfall/Reflections” developed with folk singer Nina Matvienko, "a theatrical enchantment given cohesion by choreographed movement and by music on a prodigal scale." Since 1996 Yara has also created six theater pieces with Buryat artists from Siberia.

The Buryat artists, performing under the name Uragsha, will perform excerpts from various uligers, or Siberian Epic Songs, on March 10 at 7:30 pm at La MaMa's La Galleria (info 212-475-7710) for the opening of an exhibit of photographs of Mongolia by Alexander Khantaev. The exhibit runs through March 21. They will also play a concert of traditional Buryat songs, music and throat singing from China March 24 at 7:30 pm at La MaMa's La Galleria for the opening of an exhibit of photographs of Buryat villages in northern China by Mr. Khantaev. That exhibit runs through April 4. Uragsha will also perform at the Bowery Poetry Club March 17.

THE WARRIOR'S SISTER was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding, Alliance for Resident Theatre of New York, Yara's individual contributors and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts.

For more information check the calendar on Yara 's web site at www.brama.com/yara/

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