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Experiencing Ecstasy

Ilkhom Theater Company kicks off a multi-city U.S. tour at A.C.T. with productions of White White Black Stork and Ecstasy with the Pomegranate. logo
A scene from Ecstasy With The Pomegranate
(© Timur Karpov)
Tashkent, Uzbekistan is exporting one of its most exciting theater companies, Ilkhom Theater Company, to Washington this month. The company is presenting two pieces of an extensive and eclectic repertoire, written and directed by its late founder, Mark Weil, in a multi-city tour beginning at Seattle's A.C.T. Theatre. White White Black Stork is a Romeo and Juliet-like story of a young boy and girl in a forced marriage, where the girl is in love with another boy and the boy is also in love with another boy; while Ecstasy with the Pomegranate is about painter Aleksandr Nikolaev, and his love of Bacha, an extinct form of Uzbek dance that only boys were allowed to perform.

"Mark always focused on showing different sides of a person," says Maxim Tumnenev, the company's translator. "He wanted to show that a person has a freedom of choice, can love whoever he or she wants, and cannot be oppressed by society or traditions, but can overcome them."

Ilkhom performs in Russian and Uzbek, and will use supertitles to help the audience understand the action. "When you use supertitles, you have to make a choice, and if you look at the text, you lose some of what's on stage," admits Tumenev. "But In Stork, audiences need to understand what people are talking about. In Pomegranate, it's a rich visual; we use video art and projection and it's quite easy to follow without looking at the supertitles."

Kurt Beattie, artistic director of A.C.T., is excited about presenting the company. "One of the core aspects of their training is Lecoq Technique. It's about masks and supporting character image; a way of working from the outside in, as opposed to working from the inside out." Importing 31 company members and these plays took three years to put together. Beattie believes those who have the opportunity to see them will be very impressed, "due to the brilliance of their storytelling."

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