Mayans Discover Mesopotamian Myths

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Mayan Highlands December 2014

Mun Lean browsed the Christmas things at Oxlujuj B’atz’.
She was obviously some flavor of gringa
but probably not from US…
maybe Canadian.

I scurried over to be of assistance …

“Do you speak Spanish? Can I help you?”

Up close, the shopper looked way Blond and Blue Eyed
tall- maybe 5’7”
– big bones
check.
– angular features
check.
.
She would soon tell me that she was “indigenous.”
And respond to my incredulity

“Yes, I am an ethnic Finn.”

Wow.
I remembered something about the language family and how different it was from the neighbors.

“I have come here with Beaivvas theater of Norway. We are teaching and preforming –

    I am Inanna

… clearly an irresistible event.
I dialed New York to brag on the impending multiculti experience that Just might rival anything showing on or off Broadway that night….

I would tell them breathlessly that iT is being done by a troop from Norway, with this native Sami speaker, performing selected parts of the Sumarian creation myth..”

To our delight, this event would rival the forward and spare shows that Cafe La Mama put on during the 1970’s.

The set for the one woman show was somehow “familiar.” A polished circular center representing water had a banking of ethnic cloth. I did not see Mayan weavings but recognized Indian and Asian fragments.

The translation and sets would be projected on the back wall.

The opening light is cool as morning and the young Inanna admires herself in the rivers near her home (Uruk.). This is one of the oldest ancient myths. It was probably recited for years before being recorded in Cuniform on cylanders found near the Tigris and Euphrates. Inanna is curious and develops into a woman powerful enough to take a consort and independent enough to travel to visit her relatives.

Inanna is a diety associated with water, harvest, love and war. She will make a personal and iconic journey to the underworld. The actress will transform from her royal costume and appear to be naked, cold and in rags as a tree roots and branches appears behind her. She will drape herself as if hanging on the image while the story of the gates she is passing thru are named in Spanish above. She is will complete an odyessy and assume titles from below and above.

The theatrical realization of her journey was pantomimed, danced and constructed In an array of costumes .. Sheading at first the trappings of her youth and womanhood she visits the dead and must struggle mightily to get above ground and once again don regal garments. Scene by scene, Ms. Lean ages, dies and is resurrected using elegant stagecraft.

Mayan theater students were enchanted. They already create monumental stage pictures using the same elements as this production does. So, part of the lasting pleasure will be watching them adapt Mun Lean’s understated choreography and recreating haunting backgrounds deploying the elements of Mayan Cosmogany.

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Author: diane e. dreyfus

on the road until they put the lid down

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