No Strings Theatre Company presents The Conference of the Birds, which invites audiences on a mysterious theatrical journey away from traditional narrative and performance styles that American audiences have come to expect. The play, based on a 12th century Sufi poem by Farid Uddi Attar and adapted for the stage in 1979 by Peter Brook, is an exuberant experiment in ensemble storytelling.
The Hoopoe has called the birds of the world together in order to undertake the journey to find their true king — a benevolent and beautiful bird known as Simorgh. The birds must travel over a seemingly unending desert and through seven valleys in order to find him. Along the way, the birds will be faced with riddles, stories and parables that explore deep spiritual questions reflecting one’s quest for God. In seeking the Simorgh, the birds are seeking an understanding of their place in the universe. As they travel, the birds are constantly plagued by human weakness, tempting them to fall away from their journey.
The director, Karen Caroe, has assembled a talented and diverse cast of ten actors to portray the birds. With a cartwheel and the addition of a cape or beard, the birds become slaves, royalty, hermits, and thieves in a series of vignettes that point to the central story. The ensemble’s skillfully developed movement on a minimal set is indicative of Caroe’s directorial style and is well suited for the organic simplicity of presenting the story’s timeless and universal themes.
The Conference of the Birds opens at the Black Box Theater on Friday, March 17, at 8 p.m. There will be additional performances on March 18, 24, 25, 31 and April 1 at 8 p.m. Sunday matinee performances are on March 26 and April 2 at 2:30 p.m. and a Thursday evening performance at 7 p.m. on March 30.
For reservations, call 523-1223. The theater is located at 430 N. Main Street.