Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif

Monday, January 25, 2016



BAM and Knight Blanc present

By Charles Mee
Directed by Les Waters
At; BAM Harvey Theater


"The Glory of The World" The play is about Thomas Merton, the Kentucky based Roman Catholic
monk. It is staged as a party, a centennial celebration in a very avant-garde style.

When the play begins we see a man, (Monk) played by Les Waters sitting completely still and silent
with his back towards the audience, (A stunning moment ) and his thoughts being projected onto stage. Merton was the author of the seven Storey Mountain and many other books and had a lot to say.  His wisdom and philosophy had many questions such as, "What if nothing is sacred-and everything is?" "What makes a man?" 'What makes a saint?" Amazing sayings for food for thought.

Theater is supposed to be about action, at least thats what every one says and expects but for me that
moment of silence which was actually quite long had incredible movement of thought and calm and peace and drama in it.  A perfect beginning, what else a monk should be doing if not sitting silently
in a noiseless place and reflecting on his spirit and his being.

Then all of a sudden there was a real celebration in the form of a party. 17 men, most of them very handsome with incredible bodies come barging in a vast room which seems like the basement of a garage or a gym perhaps or a rented party room with a ping pong table and an inflatable air mattress.
They drink, they dance, they run around, one of them tries to get on that mattress un-successfully and then all of a sudden the party turns into a fight which gets intense by the minute and seems quite ominous at times.  Two interesting thoughts enter my mind at that point.

Knowing Charles Mee's work which is extremely experimental, first I wondered if he is exposing the beauty of the monk's silent and quiet life of contemplation and contrasting it with the noisy, mundane, mind bogglingly busy world of the one's who are celebrating the monk's birthday?
Second thought which I struggled with was,  what is better,  the noise or the quiet? The peaceful
boring relaxation or a very hectic, exciting gathering which can also turn into violence of excess?
I couldn't actually decide what the writer and the director meant by this very long fight in the middle of the celebration for a secluded, catholic monk who must have avoided such gatherings.
But knowing Mee's style, he must have some kind of meaning which didn't come across so easily.
However the fight was choreographed brilliantly.

Then a bit more calm came into the play when all those men in party hats sat on little chairs in a row and expressed quotes by many scholars and writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde about , "SOLITUDE" and "LONELINESS"  Even Lady Gaga was quoted being lonely and sitting in a quiet room all alone by herself.

It was an interesting change from the fight edging towards violence.
I have to say that I enjoyed the show though I didn't understand the concept of the play.  I wanted to learn more about Thomas Merton and how and why he chose seclusion, meditation and the silence.

Talking of silence, the last scene of the play is exactly the same as the opening of the play.  A MAN,
sitting silently facing us this time with incredible control over his stillness, (A difficult job to sit still for an average actor but never for Les Waters) and again the words of wisdom being projected onto stage. I Liked that image of the silent poet digging into the depths of his spirituality far removed from this busy and noisy world.  Theater in its stillness can also be very moving.

Bina Sharif
For, " artsinternational"

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