Sufi’s life inspires drama

The only reason to do anything in the theater is that it is alive now, in the present,» director Peter Brook told the press in Athens yesterday. He and his international cast and musicians are in town for three performances of «Tierno Bokar.» The play – or «theatrical research» as Brook calls it – was adapted for the stage by Marie-Helene Estienne from «The Life and Teaching of Tierno Bokar – The Sage of Bandiagara,» written by one of the Sufi mystic’s students, Amadou Hampate Ba. Brook, who made his name with innovative performances in Britain before moving to France in 1971, has also spent three years in Africa, where the play is set. «It is about religion, politics, tolerance and man’s inhumanity to man,» Brook said. «It is a true story. The theater is not a lecture; it is not a book on philosophy. The only reason theater exists is for ideas to turn into living experiences.» He summed up the effect of drama saying, «Thousands of books have been written about destiny, but the experience of a true performance of Greek tragedy gives this idea reality.» Malian actor Sotigui Kouyate plays the part of the sage. «In my language, theater means ‘getting to know each other.’ We don’t say, ‘We are going to the theater,’ but, ‘We are going to shape up our viewpoint.’» «Tierno Bokar» runs tomorrow to July 4 at the Petra Theater in Petroupolis as part of the Petra International Summer 2005 Festival.

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