The Eagle and the Tortoise

The Eagle and the Tortoise (photo courtesy
The Eagle and the Tortoise (photo courtesy

The Eagle and the Tortoise, now playing at BRIC as part of the Under The Radar series, is a light of love and honor to those who suffer in the realm of genocide. Those whose family members are murdered and lost and those who fight against the collective killings.

Sister Sylvester, creator of The Eagle and the Tortoise, uses the legend of the death of the playwright Aeschylus as a harbinger to the story of a young student from Turkey who would become “an icon of leftist resistance.” Aeschylus, known as the father of tragedy, supposedly met his death at the hands of a tortoise falling from the sky and hitting him on the head. The story goes that the tortoise was being carried by an eagle, and the eagle, seeing Aeschylus’ bald head, mistook it for a large stone and dropped the tortoise on it in hopes of breaking its shell and thus devouring its meat.

It is the aerial view of the eagle that distorts its vision. Much like our global shots taken of towns and cities, they distort the view. They do not show details. Think about the overhead shots you’ve seen of destroyed buildings either by war or weather; you can see they’ve been destroyed, but the human element is removed at that distance and from that point of view.

A tortoise, on the other hand, sees things differently. They can live up to a hundred years. They are slow in movement, living only inches from the ground, allowing time and motion, or lack thereof, to provide a vision of the details in life.

Bombs fall from the sky and destroy what has been viewed and chosen by aerial nonspecific computerized man-made pictures. Bombs that do not discriminate children from soldiers, schools from factories, good from bad.

Upon entering the Bric theater, you enter a dark room with chairs all facing a large screen. On each chair is a book wrapped in a silicon baking sheet. The books are all handmade and are works of art in themselves. On top of each book is a headlamp.

You are instructed to put on the headlamp but not to open the book. Slowly, your eyes adjust, and you see in a far corner of the room a table filled with books, some plants, and a tortoise–a red-footed tortoise, slowly milling about between the books and plants. A video camera hovers above the tortoise and everything on the table, which is projected onto the screen in front of us.

A voice, Sister Sylvester, starts to speak, instructing us to open our books and to read. We will, for the next hour, read together quietly and aloud. Stopping when instructed to view images on the screen and listen to the story of a brave young Turkish student who will accidentally be dropped into the leftist resistance of Turkey, working to stop the genocides of Armenians and Kurds.

We will read together and listen to the recount of genocides based on hate and faith reflected in our myths of men and strength and programmed into our computerized worlds where the view is from above, the one used to infiltrate and kill from a point of view that leaves out the details of life.

The Eagle and the Tortoise is a quietly stunning multimedia performance bringing together collective reading, film, and video, in 60 minutes of audience total involvement. It is not a judgment on us, simply an observation meant to awaken and make us aware.

I cannot say enough about it as an experience, as a theatrical event, and as a group involvement. Go experience this treasure for yourself.

Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission

Final performance Sunday, January 21st


Readers may also enjoy reviews of The Sweet SpotThe Days of Wine and RosesA Star Without a Name,  Godzilla’s Prince at Pangea, and Aging is Not a Fairy Tale.

The Eagle and the Tortoise


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