By Green School Parent, Monica Wolfe
Two hours, they said. Two hours of a high school play. Uh oh, this could be a long night…
But then it was beginning, gentle, exotic drumming floated over the humid night as a line of robed actors walked through us, with a confidence and grace that comes with knowing. “Asalam Alaikum” calls their leader, “Alaikum Asalam” intone the others, in unison, in rhythm. We were in, I was spellbound.
Arabian Nights, the stories of the thousands and one nights, stories within stories, mysteries and comedies, tragedies and philosophies; acts within acts, all masterfully put together so we always knew where we were, who was who. The passion was palpable; I could feel the hours of preparation in the choreography as scenes and actors changed places or characters. Props? Who needs them? At one point they created a journey across mountains, through rivers and oceans, just by the movement of their bodies, the waving of the sea, the shape of a boat (arms linked together, the shape of a leaf).
And how they unfolded each tale! I have rarely been so engrossed, charmed, inspired, amused and thrilled at a group of people working together on some scripted lines, some suggested scenes.
Enthralled, enraptured we sat, perhaps 80 of us, parents, children, friends of friends, on cushions around the floor or along the amphitheatre steps under the leaf-like umbrella that forms the roof of this remarkable theatre and morning assembly hall (now transformed into the realm of original mysteries).
And how the school, this collection of incredible buildings, each exquisite and unique, that are host to a throng of passionate people from around the world, who we see in the day, busy in their comings and goings, in the never-ending endeavour of teaching, of learning, is transformed at night, the curved walls, the bamboo structures beautifully crafted together into a whole, like a basket, surrounded by over-storey coconuts and living bamboo. Dark green everywhere, the boisterous clouds overhead, the occasional howl of a forest creature. This is quite a place. And this night belongs to Ibu Sarita, our school’s drama teacher who has brought this performance to light and created a kind of magic. And these young adults whose lives are surely enriched now, their memories of this time, this night and one other they’ll perform, which they will keep for their forevers.
How great is this? To see that learning is more than memory, that memories are made from creating something that is beyond the one, part of a collaboration of efforts that weave light and sound and words.
“And the nights of Baghdad shone bright like day” they soared, in defiance and joy at once.
Joy and tragedy together, as we all know too well the bitter history of yesteryear, wrought by Western leaders who still live and breathe today. And so, from a thousand-year-old enchantments we are dumped into the folly of today. With the echoes of incredible wisdom in the original book that inspired this play – of love, the meaning of prayer, of sunset, God, the words that define an empire, death and infinite joy – the lights went down, the story done, the moment complete. Like the outraged King at the beginning of this tale who only wanted the stories to continue, I only wanted more. Until dawn if need be, and beyond.