Folger Theatre Presents THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS, Beginning 10/23

Folger Theatre Presents THE CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS, Beginning 10/23

The Folger Theatre continues its 2012/13 season with the Washington premiere of The Conference of the Birds, a theatrical adventure based on the poignant 12th-century Persian fable by Farid Uddi Attar about the search for the divine and the quest for truth. Beginning performances on October 23, the production is directed by two-time Helen Hayes Award-winner Aaron Posner (Cyrano, Macbeth at Folger) and will feature original music composed and performed by renowned musician and Helen Hayes Award-winner Tom Teasley.

Attar’s poem was adapted into a play by renowned director and theatre innovator Peter Brook and award-winning screenwriter and actor Jean-Claude Carrière. In 1971, Brook and 11 actors toured the play through Saharan Africa before presenting productions to Western audiences – throughout Europe and in New York City.

The Conference of the Birds metaphorically maps out the journey of the human ego and the quest for self-discovery. In this imaginative tale, the birds of the world take flight on an extraordinary pilgrimage to find their king. The hoopoe bird reveals to the flock, “The way is open, but there is neither traveler nor guide.” The dangers and hardships encountered on the journey cause many to question and abandon their search. In the end, a small number of birds uncover a profound secret.

“This 12th-century Persian poem is one of the great works of Sufi literature,” stated Posner. “As great classics do, it weaves a simple spell with an intriguing power that has engaged readers, listeners -- and audience members for nearly 1,000 years. By turns beautiful, haunting, funny, intriguing, and perhaps even troubling, this poem is not afraid to grapple with essential questions about the nature of human beings and our place in the universe. Combining music, movement, dance, poetry, and passions of all kinds, it is an astonishing work, and, hopefully, unlike anything you have likely ever seen before.”

The Conference of the Birds features an impressive cast -- Katie deBuys, Britt Duff, Jessica Frances Dukes, Jay Dunn, Robert Barry Fleming, Patty Gallagher, Tara Giordano, Mark Halpern, Celeste Jones, Jens Rasmussen, Annapurna Sriram, Tiffany Rachelle Stewart, and Tom Teasley. The award-winning creative team includes Meghan Raham (set design), Olivera Gajic (costume design), Jennifer Schriever (lighting design), Elisheba Ittoop (sound design), and Erika Chong Shuch (choreographer).

“The Conference of the Birds is an extraordinary fable and adventure tale that is sure to enlighten, challenge, and charm Washington audiences,” said Janet Alexander Griffin, Folger Theatre’s Artistic Producer. “Combining music, movement, dance, and poetry, this promises to be a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience that we are proud to include in our theatrical season of ‘journeys of the imagination.’”

Ticketing Information & Performance Dates:
The Conference of the Birds plays at Folger Theatre from October 23 – November 25, 2012. Tickets are $40 - $68, with lower-priced previews and discounts for students, seniors, educators, and groups of ten or more available – and may be purchased at the Folger Theatre Box Office at 202.544.7077 or online at

Related Programming:
Acclaimed illustrator, author, and filmmaker Peter S?s will discuss his adaptation of Farid Uddi Attar’s epic poem The Conference of the Birds, which marked S?s’ first book for adults. S?s is a MacArthur fellow, and a Caldecott award winner. The author of more than 20 books, he is a seven-time honoree for The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year. This special event takes place on Friday, November 2 at 6pm; $15.

Stephen Landrigan and Qais Akbar Omar speak about their book Shakespeare in Kabul, which chronicles a remarkable production of Love’s Labor’s Lost that was staged in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006. The account provides a glimpse into the rich cultural life of Afghanistan as it describes the challenges faced by the actors on and off the stage, the response they stirred, and the tragic consequences that followed one of them. Omar, a journalist, served as assistant director of the production, as well as interpreter for Parisian actress Corinne Jaber, who acted in Peter Brook’s magnum stage production of The Mahabharata. Shakespeare in Kabul takes place on Friday, November 16 at 6pm; free.

Folger’s exhibition Very Like a Whale marks a collaboration between Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library and artist Rosamond Purcell, exploring the form-engendering power of the Renaissance mind, its ability to transform one thing into another -- seeing things for what else they are. By juxtaposing books and manuscripts from the Folger collection, natural history objects, Purcell’s photographs, and passages from Shakespeare, Very Like a Whale surveys the interplay between the real world and the world of the Renaissance imagination. This exhibition is on display in the Folger Great Hall from October 16 – January 6; free.

In Folger’s Shakespeare Gallery, the display Brook & Birds includes a watercolor “Pictorial Encyclopedia of Shakespearean Birds” by artist Missy Hammond Dunaway, as well as information on the poem of The Conference of the Birds and Peter Brook’s production which toured Saharan Africa. On view October 16 - November 25; free.

Related Articles

Washington, DC THEATER Stories | Shows  Like BWW DC  Follow BWW DC

From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...