Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"MoLoRa" - Vengeance or Forgiveness

As I was about to take my seat in the Joan Weill Center on a hot day, I was a bit startled when I looked around and saw an older black woman, face painted slightly white huddled in the audience wrapped in what looked like a blanket. I would later learn that she was one of the seven members of the Ngqoko Cultural Group, the Greek Chorus in Yael Farber's MoLoRa based on the Oresteia Trilogy and currently playing at the Alvin Ailey Center.

Not the easiet play to sit through, (post)apartheid South Africa is represented by a broken family in MoLoRa (which means ash). A white mother (Klytemnestra played by Dorothy Ann Gould), herself abused but somehow does not invoke much sympathy relegates her black daughter (Elektra played by Jabulile Tshabalala) to an abused servant, whipping her, burning her, drowning her, and suffocating her. An unbroken Elektra waits impatiently for 17 years for the day when the baby brother she gave to the town's people for protection returns so that they can reclaim their home and take vengeance.

MoLoRa is an angry, bloody and dark play. But like post-Apartheid South Africa, we are reminded that an "eye for an eye" is not always the answer, and those who have been wronged do not always seek revenge. Sometimes, they seek reconciliation.

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