Theater: 'Babylon'

April 28 and 29, Sandglass Theater presents a work-in-progress "Babylon,"a piece about refugees, at Next Stage Arts, 15 Kimball Hill, at 7:30 p.m. $18 general; $16 student/seniors at

On Friday and Saturday, April 28 and 29 Sandglass Theater will present the first full work-in-progress showing of Babylon at Next Stage Arts Project at 7:30 p.m., with an additional fundraising package for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program on Friday after the show. Babylon is a piece about refugees: their journeys, traumas, and challenges to resettlement. Performed by puppets and actors with moving panoramas, known as crankies and with choral singing. Sandglass has been developing this piece for nearly two years, and will begin touring in Autumn of 2017.

Babylon is the name of an ancient city in what is now Iraq. Its ruins lie 59 miles southwest of Baghdad. This fallen, mythic civilization becomes, for us, a metaphor for the destruction and destabilization that is leading much of the world into a refugee crisis of mythic proportion.

Babylon is a response to the rapidly escalating world crisis of asylum seekers. The piece looks at the relationship of refugees to their lost homelands, to their new homelands and languages, and to other migrants who are fleeing violence. Material has been developed through interviews with resettled refugees, and the piece intends to offer audiences an understanding of a refugee's plight, the challenges to resettlement. Babylon also explores the challenges in our own lives and communities in response to this migration.

In an effort to understand the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that face refugees, Sandglass Theater is also working with the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) in Colchester, Vermont, one of 76 agencies in the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Friday evening's performance is followed by a preview reception that includes dessert, conversation with Amila Merdzanovic, Director of VRRP, and time to meet the artists and directors of Babylon. Friday's post show events are a fundraiser for the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program.

The show is co-directed by Eric Bass of Sandglass Theater and Roberto Salomon of Teatro Luis Poma, El Salvador. The music is composed by Brendan Taaffe, with a percussion score by Julian Gerstin. The cast includes Shoshana Bass, Kei Ching, Jay Gelter, Terrell Jones, and Kalob Martinez. The puppets are characters, but also metaphors for a world of strangers among us who do not always have voices we can hear or understand, and for whose stories we do not always have the time or attention span.

Tickets are $18 general admission and $16 for student and seniors for both Friday and Saturday shows. If you would also like to partake in the fundraising reception on Friday evening after the show tickets are $40 all-inclusive. Tickets can purchased at Next Stage is a fully accessible theater venue located right in the center of Putney, Vermont off I91, exit 4.

This project is supported by funding from The National Endowment for the Arts, The Fresh Sound Foundation, The Jim Henson Foundation, The McKenzie Family Charitable Trust, The Vermont Community Foundation, The National Performance Network with commissions from The Flynn Center, Portland Ovations and Columbia College Chicago Center for Community Arts Partnerships.


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