by Rick Winterson
The Fort Point Theater Channel (FPTC) has produced many fine, memorable live performances over the past several years. One of the more remarkable of these was the first performance on October 1 of “Basra-Boston Connections” in the Atlantic Wharf performance space at 290 Congress Street. This stirring production, which was blessedly free to all, will be repeated on Friday evening, November 4 in Arts at the Armory in Somerville (191 Highland Avenue). Here again, admission will be free.
“Basra-Boston Connections” is one result of an Iraq-U.S. collaboration entitled The Boston-Basra Project. “Connections” combines live theater, poetry, and music on a stags that actually uses studio arts like paintings and photography to create a flexible and striking performance space. A word about Basra: Basra is a city in southeastern Iraq below the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. It is surrounded by vast, brackish marshes overgrown with reeds. It is the legendary site of the Biblical Eden. It was also a prime target of Saddam Hussein’s oppressive dictatorship
The production began with poetry of Elham al-Zabaedy; a staged reading of “In the Reeds” followed, written by Amy Merrill and directed by Naomi Isbasitas. Anne Loyer then delivered her comments on the onstage art by herself and Asmaa Samir al-Hasan. Poems by were read by Mitch Manning; a slide presentation of Basra archeology followed.
A high point of the evening was the music. By video from Basra, the University of Basra played “Panorama Joy” composed by Qays Owda Qasim. An improvisation followed using the themes within “Panorama Joy” by Jorrit Dijkstra on alto saxophone and Jeb Bishop on trombone. These improvisations were based upon the melodic lines within the original composition, which were then skillfully developed in ways that reminded this listener of American jazz techniques.
Performances continued with additional readings of poetry written by Elham al-Zabaedy and Mitch Manning. The performance ended with a another well-received staged reading entitled “Brides Look Forward”, written by Johnny E. Meyer, a U.S. veteran who served in Iraq, and directed by Kathryn Howell. Remarks from FPTC’s Marc S. Miller closed out the evening.
And please remember that you are invited to the next performance of “Basra-Boston Connections” on Friday evening, November 4, at 8 p.m. at Arts at the Armory, 181 Highland Avenue, in Somerville – also a free performance.
Anne Loyer’s multi-media creation – ink, watercolor, collage, print, sewed design