Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Blue Sky Transmission: A Tibetan Book of the Dead


Every once in a while a very special event takes place in a theatre. It usually entails a theatre undertaking a subject or a script that takes the audience on a mythical journey into thought and introspection. It also requires that the production live up to the performance levels demanded by the script. Such an experience will be encountered by those lucky enough to get tickets to 'BLUE SKY TRANSMISSION: A TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD' at Cleveland Public Theatre

Don’t let the title throw you. You don’t need to know about Tibetan Buddhist death processes. You just need to be open to see another view of life and death. You need to recognize that each process of dealing with death and understanding death is neither right nor wrong, it’s just different.

This is an intelligent probing into a sacred text that leads us to understand a soul seeking enlightenment. Don’t get the idea that you will understand everything. You won’t, but it will matter little. The whole is more important than the parts. As the script states, “Do not judge, do not try to understand.” It goes on to say, “Everything lies in the journey so don’t grasp at the destination.”

Raymond Bobgan, the director, who also served as the primary playwright, has honed a 90-minute intermissionless engaging experience. He has created a seamless production. He blended his cast, Lisa Black, Tracy Broyles, Kishiko Hasegawa, Holly Holsinger, Brett Keyser, Amy Kristina, Karin Randoja, Sophia Skiles, Rebecca Spencer, and Chi-wang Yang, into a coherent unit.

The entire production is supported by Hamlim El-Dabh’s music. Michael Guy-James has created a flower-like canopy that covers the stage which is surrounded on four sides by seats that stretch to four rows. The configuration allows each viewer to become part of the experience.

Capsule judgement: Near the end of the play several lines summarize the thought-invoking effect of the production. These include: “Do not waste the life to come” and “You are so lucky your pain is so much less than the world’s.”
Following its run in Cleveland the show will move to New York’s La Mama Theatre, ETC. for a four-week run. This is significant as CPT’s Executive Director James Levin began his theatrical career at La Mama and has modeled the local theatre after La Mama’s dedication to social justice issues and innovative live performances.