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Director's Notes: The Conference of the Birds

If you're not a theatre geek, perhaps you don't know about Peter Brook, but Peter Brook -- the co-adaptor and instigator of this play-- is perhaps one of the most innovative and influential theatre artists of the last 60 years. I first read Peter Brook's theatrical manifesto, THE EMPTY SPACE, in high school. I was just getting serious about theater and I really appreciated the clarity, insight, and inspiration. It called for theater to be “Immediate, Rough, and Holy,” which I utterly loved. It held up Shakespeare (whom I already loved) as the greatest example. And it warned of “Deadly Theatre,” which I already knew I really wanted to avoid...


I then read as much as I could by and about Brook, which led me to The Conference of the Birds. I've loved it ever since. I love its beauty and wisdom. It is abstract and provocative. I didn't fully understand it when I first read it, and I still don't... but at the same time, it continues to grow and evolve for me. It has always spoken to me, whatever is going on in my life.


Exploring this play-- delving into any "wisdom literature", perhaps-- means dealing with what our cast has already come to call "the real stuff"-- the big, complex, core questions of our lives. "The real stuff" is usually messy and confusing, however, so most of us don't give it permission to rise to the surface very often. But one wonderful thing that plays can do is help us take a moment out of our busy lives to explore our "real stuff" in new and different ways...


The story is simple. Led by an urgent and insistent Hoopoe, an assortment of birds leave their quotidian lives on a quest to find their true King, the Simorgh. It is based on an extraordinary Persian poem written nearly 1000 years ago to illuminate the soul of Sufism. What I think I love about it the most is that what you take away from it depends largely on what you willing to bring to it. If you're willing to bring your "real stuff" to the table--well, then there's no telling what kind of journey you might take along with this assortment of odd and esoteric birds.


And speaking of bringing "real stuff" to the table... I would like to take a moment to thank this extraordinary cast for their courage, imagination, and generosity. This production is a true collaborative effort, and the cast, staff, creative team, artists and assistants are all playing a huge role in figuring out how best to tell this story, at this moment, in this space... to you.


This production is dedicated to Peter Brook. His passion, insight, and wisdom everyone who makes theater-- or sees it-- would be much poorer. It is also dedicated to all theater artists, here and everywhere, who toil in the creative fields to bring forth a worthwhile harvest. It is a great job, but it is not an easy one, and I am always moved and amazed by the tremendous passion and sheer creative energy that theater artists muster-- and share-- every single day.


Thank you so much for being here. Now sit up, lean forward, get ready to look outward and inward, and prepare yourself for the flight ahead. Who knows where we'll end up...


Aaron Posner,
Artistic Associate

Aaron Posner


What is The Conference of the Birds?

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