Written by: Erik Ehn
Directed by: Mia Rovegno
Music by: Eric Lindley
Featuring Singing by: Jocelyn Kuritsky
Along with voices from Vassar Workshop by: Emma Galvin, Andrew Garman, Jan Leslie Harding and Birgit Huppuch
BURNT UMBER was part of the Solographie: Our Genocides cycle presented at La Mama ETC November 2012. This piece was originally commissioned/workshopped by Crowded Fire Theater Company and Playwrights Foundation (SF). Workshops followed at New Dramatists (NYC), Arena Stage (DC) and most recently with the current cast at Powerhouse/New York Stage and Film (Vassar). Though it takes place in Tulsa in 2007, BURNT UMBER is haunted by the events of the Tulsa Race Riots (1921), Rwandan genocide (1994), and the Bosnian ethnic cleansing campaign and genocide in Srebrenica (1992-1995). The characters somnabulently orbit around this domestic American drama in an atmosphere of neglect, denial, and communication breakdown-elements known to successfully break a family apart, or in a different context, allow a genocidal act to occur. The play explores what can happen when some of us aren't looking or others simply decide not to look.
In our research, we discovered a series of drawings made by children living in war-torn communities across the globe. This became the inspiration for the video design. I incorporated projections of evocative abstract drawings that leave room for the audience to process, interpret, and come to incomprehensible images with their own associations;much like one might approach the subject of genocide: as if through a prism, its image unfixed, carrying with it too many complicated, fragmented associations to immediately define a simple relationship to it.
This piece also featured some heartbreakingly beautiful music to introduce a hopeful counterpoint to the darkness of the piece.