Bas Blue Aims To Build Resiliency With 'Lest We Forget'
"I think theatre is to 'hold the mirror up,' as Shakespeare says…" opined Bas Bleu Theatre Company founding artistic director Wendy Ishi. She invoked the Bard, forming an analogy between world events in current day Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq and what happened in World War II.
It's those dark realities of cruelty and injustice from yesterday and today that Bas Bleu is hoping to confront in a series of events they're calling Lest We Forget: A Weekend of Remembrances and Resiliency.
Ishi said the plays and documentary film programmed for the weekend mark painful moments in history – like the Nazi party's brutal ascent toward power - but also to celebrate the enduring nature of the human spirit.
Ishi's character in the 10-minute play Jostled is a testament to that endurance.
The play centers on the symbolism of tattoos for an Auschwitz survivor and her 16-year-old granddaughter; regarded as a brutal act for the former and a dictum of self-expression for the latter.
John Moore, who directed the piece, said the play is a reminder that the past is not "shared history."
"It [history] has to be re-learned all the time," Moore said. "Families have to tell each other these stories or else how can we expect young people to understand?"
Libby Skala is well aware of her family's history.
She wrote and performs in Lilia!, a one-woman show based on the life of her grandmother, Lilia Skala. The play recounts Lilia's unlikely path out of Nazi-occupied Austria and eventually on to the Silver Screen.
The holocaust is a thread that connects all three works; however it is not the singular focus of the weekend. The documentary film Seeds of Resiliency chronicles challenges confronted by 12 people from varied walks of life.
"When life gives you limits – push 'em," wheelchair motor cross athlete Aaron Fotheringham declares in the film.
Bas Bleu has a history of presenting art as an entry point for meaningful discussion and potential healing. They're very name is a nod to that mission, taking their moniker after 18th century bluestocking societies where men and women would gather to discuss topics of the day.
In keeping with fostering community discussion, all three events include a pre-show reception and post-show discussion with artists involved in the productions.
"Stories are how we make sense of life, that's really what Bas Bleu is about," said Ishi. "The fact that the world is somewhat in a state of chaos right now, that telling these stories is a way to reflect and help us understand and move forward."
Arts District is a collaboration of KUNC, RMPBS, and KUVO