The Dead Who Live Among Us: Contemporary Haitian Playwrights at the Segal Theatre Center

On Wednesday March 31, 2010 at the Segal Theatre Center we witnessed a collective communion between audience and performer/poets; an invocation to turn the grief of death and devastation into the life of the theatre; a theatre that aspires and inspires to bring together the dead and the living with a vision of Haiti through a theatre of the dead who live among us. Death in this theatre is not the end but a continuous cycle that connects death with life, and poetry with the living stage.

The evening begins with an invocation of congas by Atibon and Zilibo followed by Jean-Dany Joachim’s mellifluous voice inviting us to create a theatre that will bring the haunted stage of Haiti back to life in this devastated country struggling to recover through theatre/poetry/song.

As the living are brought together by the dead; as a direct result of the earthquake in Haiti that precipitated Wednesday night’s event; as Michèle Voltaire Marcelin rendered the dead living with remembered moments of loss and survival (an elderly woman who, after remaining under a collapsed roof for three days declares to rescuers, “Je suis là! J’ai soif!” in a cry of defiance and desire for life) through song/poetry/movement that conjured images of the dead among the living in the aftermath of what Haitians call “The Thing.”

As “Duccha” (Duckens Charitable) relates through his play An Absolute Act of Citizenship, in which a dead man narrates his own death by violence in the streets of Port-Au-Prince and reclaims the life of an “ordinary citizen” from the death of the media who paint him as just another anonymous statistic via a televised news report.

As the living who are “walking on the bones of the dead;” as the living who are being brought together by the dead in Dominique Batraville’s Endless Vigils Over Crête-à-Pierrot are creating a dialogue of the living that wish to revive both physically and metaphysically the first leader of the revolution of an independent Haiti, Jean-Jacques Dessalines; as the living wish to be inspired and called upon by the dead to bring the dying nation of Haiti together once again.

Here is a stage poetry that invokes the living to see and hear the dead and commune with them through the theatre. Here is where the nation of Haiti lives in its dead and the living of its always present memory that gives this desolated nation life by bringing together the dead and the living; the past and the present; and creating a hope and communion for a future that remains alive and thriving through theatre/poetry/song.

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