Janyl, the newest work by Yara Arts Group, is based on an ancient epic song from Kyrgyzstan, "Janyl Myrza" (pronounced Ja-nil Mir-zha), about a woman archer with a skill so refined that she never misses. This World Music-Theater piece includes fragments of the epic performed live by Kyrgyz artists from Central Asia in their traditional singing style, while Yara artists perform in English.
The production follows the Yara Arts Group style of dramatizing ancient myths with movement, world music, and songs sung in many languages. The show is based entirely on a single poetic text, "Janyl Myrza," which can be loosely translated as "Sir Jane." Passed down orally through the centuries, it was recorded from the great epic singer Ibraim Abdyrakhmanov and portrays actual events that took place in the 17th century. "Janyl Myrza" has been translated for the first time into English by Kyrgyz poet Roza Mukasheva, Virlana Tkacz and Wanda Phipps especially for this show.
Founded in 1990, Yara Arts Group, a resident company of La MaMa, creates original pieces that explore timely issues rooted in the East through the diverse cultural perspectives of the group's members. Yara artists are of Asian, African, Eastern and Western European ethnic origin. They bring together poetry, song, historical materials and scientific texts, primarily from the East, to form what one critic described as "extended meditation on an idea."
Sakhna Theatre was founded under the direction of Nurlan Asanbekov in 2002. The artists work and experiment with traditional material, creating contemporary experimental versions of the great Kyrgyz epics. They study the oral folk traditions of their nomadic culture in order to help them revive these epics through ritual theatre. The universal theme of man's relationship with nature is at the heart of their productions. The epic stories are accompanied by traditional songs and instruments, further preserving this 1,000 year old culture.
Janyl is directed by Virlana Tkacz and designed by Watoku Ueno, with movement by Shigeko Sara Suga, photography by Margaret Morton, video by Andrea Odezynska, and translation by Virlana Tkacz, Roza Mukasheva and Wanda Phipps. The production features Kyrgyz epic singing by Omurzak Kaiypov and music by Asylbek Nasirdinov.