In this classic tale, the birds of the world take flight on a pilgrimage to find their celebrated king, but the dangers and hardships encountered on the journey cause many in the flock to abandon their search. In the end the small number of birds that survive uncover a profound secret, and this journey mirrors the Sufi doctrine that God is not external or separate from the universe, but the totality of existence.
Come you lost Atoms to your Centre draw,
And be the Eternal Mirror that you saw:
Rays that have wander’d into Darkness wide
Return and back into your Sun subside
Pangea World Theater will present Conference of The Birds, an adaptation of a poem of the same name by 12th century Sufi poet from Iran, Farid ud-Din Attar. Presented by Pangea in 1996, Conference of The Birds has been rewritten by playwright Meena Natarajan in context of the times in which we now live. “At the eve of the political and social changes that are taking place in this country, we chose Conference of The Birds, which was also our inaugural production to convey our message of unity. This unity is not easy to achieve. The path is difficult and the play portrays this,” says Artistic Director Dipankar Mukherjee, who has led Pangea World Theater since its inception over a decade ago.
Meena Natarajan’s scripts have been professionally produced both in India and the U.S. She has created, written and performed in stage and street theater pieces in India raising issues such as social injustice, corruption and dowry deaths. She is deeply inspired by larger mythological themes and poetry and has adapted texts such as The Egyptian Book of The Dead, 2000-year-old love poems from India and large events such as the partition of India and Pakistan. She has written several plays for Pangea World Theater, including Osiris, Partitions, The Inner World, and has co-written Bearing Witness, and Rashomon. From 2000-2003, she served as the President of Women Playwrights International, an international organization promoting the work of women playwrights, and convened the 7th Women Playwrights International Conference in the Philippines in 2003. Natarajan served on the Board of the Network of Ensemble Theaters and the American Festival Project and is on the Advisory Council of the Community Arts Network.
Conference of The Birds features Heidi Berg, Beverly Cottman, Sonal Agarwal Gerten, Katie Herron, Masanari Kawahara, Kaori Kenmotsu, Alberto Panelli, Gregory Singfield, Harry Waters Jr., and Kevin Whitby.
Performances are March 12-29, presented Thursday through Sunday at 7:30 p.m. at the Avalon Theater, 1500 E. Lake St., Minneapolis. Post-play discussions will follow Friday and Saturday performances. Tickets are $15, ($3 discount for students, seniors, and groups of 10 or more), at 612.203.1088. For more information, visit www.pangeaworldtheater.org.