RED BEARD, RED BEARD
At the COURTLAND HOTEL, Wall Street
Friday through Sunday, February 11- March 5, 2000
Directed by John Malpede
“When my headaches were raging, I wanted to hit someone in the forehead to let them know how it felt.” from Simone Weil, referring to her headaches in her book, Gravity and Grace.
Our production is a duet with the Kurosawa film “Red Beard”. The film is shown in Japanese, with no sub-titles, and the actors sitting in a line on either side of the screen, say the lines “oratorio -style”, in English. They also enact parts of the movie, which allows for doubling, foreshadowing and contrapuntal, similar-but-different renderings of the action.
The movie seeks to provide a way out of the dispiriting cycle described by Simone Weil, in which hurt and victimization become the motive forces for further hurt and victimization. How do you break out of the cycle of hurt, exactly when things seem overwhelming and most hopeless?
The story is set in a public hospital serving the indigent in rural, feudal Japan. We chose to work with this movie because it’s harsh depiction of the dynamics of extreme poverty resonated against our experiences in urban America.
In the movie, two men die, one after the other. The first dies alone, without saying a word, humiliated. The shame he experiences isn’t the result of his own faults, but victimization caused by betrayals he has suffered. Because of his consistent concern for his neighbors, the second dying man is mourned by the entire community Before he dies, he calls his friends and neighbors together because he wants to die without secrets. He recounts a tragic love story. He concludes the story that in his grieving for his wife, he dedicated his life to helping others. He dies peacefully, with no regrets and leaves a legacy of caring.
As our company prepared the production, a cast member brilliantly pointed out that reaching out from your despair to assist others, is the incite at the core of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. These programs are fellowships of addicts and helping one another is the way out of each individual’s hopelessness.