haïti, holy republic of all attempts…

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This bilingual piece, adapted from the play “Dialogue with my Double” and various poems by Carmelle St.Gérard Lopez is a patchwork of activist literature – where for an hour and a half, there is intense communication between the audience and the stage. Punctuated by songs composed and interpreted by Maryse Coulanges, the text explores the profound desperation of a small group of citizens who against all odds, imagine a country based on collaboration and civic duty. This performance in which the voice of the Colony of Saint-Domingue (Martina Bruno) and its double, The Republic of Haïti (Michele Voltaire Marcelin) are heard, provides a sample of the complete theatrical piece “Ras les Bornes/Borderline”.

Michele Voltaire Marcelin & Martina Bruno

Michele Voltaire Marcelin & Martina Bruno

The piece is an indictment against Haitians who spend their time waiting :” in endless inactivity; one intertwined hour after another while days go by, time flies by and they escape the truth.”

It is January 1st, 2004, the day of Haïti’s bicentennial, and the ancient colony of Saint-Domingue (Martina Bruno) has come to celebrate with her:

“Haïti! Haïti, Holy Republic of all attempts, I have come from afar in order to share with Thee, today’s celebration of your anniversary which is just as precious to me as it is to you, especially since the day I ceased to be and was reborn in you, to go on with my life through every heartbeat of yours.”

She is bewildered and outraged at the state of this present-day Haïti: a pauper, dressed in tattered rags and sequins -remnant of her past grandeur- emerging from a cardboard box, a kwi in hand (a kwi is a halved calabash, traditionally used by beggars asking for alms).

“What kind of celebration is this? What crime have you committed to deserve such a fate? Where are your children, heirs to valiant souls?” exclaims Saint-Domingue. With tremendous sadness, the Republic of Haïti (Michèle Voltaire Marcelin) declares:

“My children don’t have any roots. They are all gone; they’re here, there, somewhere. Some live elsewhere. Others remain here, strangers even to their own land. My children cannot hear or see anything. They say nothing – remain silent. They have become zombies. They wait for Papa Bon Dye, the Holy Virgin, the zémès, the saints, the lwas. They are waiting for the blessing: the sound of the boots of the former general’s (Rochambeau) brothers and cousins.”

Drowning in a pool of blood, amidst general indifference, Haïti is offered solace and comfort when Maryse Coulange’s comes towards her to sing poignantly: Pô djab pô sô (Poor sister):

It seems you’ve lost
your rosary’s cross
it seems you’ve mislaid
your prayers…
I want to cry and I can’t
Haïti I love you so much
Open your arms so rain can bless you…

The Finale, between Carmelle St.Gérard-Lopez (personifying the destructive forces plaguing the country) and Karnya Augustin (Haïti’s symbolic youth), is a choreographed sequence that shows “the withered space of a fragmented land” where life is:

agonizing
day is shortening
night is lengthening
time is never-ending…
Within a withered space
of a devastated land
death is looming
the ghost of nothingness
infiltrates the silence
of the Caribbean sea
exactly, where formerly
Haïti used to shine…

Although the piece explores past failures, it is ultimately hopeful, calling on all Haitians to help revive their country through love and engagement. The final admonishment on which the play ends : Sispann sa! (Stop this!) is said by Haïti herself as a last call for hope.

Michèle Voltaire Marcelin

At The Producer’s Club Theater in NYC, February 21st, 2009
Michele Voltaire Marcelin as the Republic of Haiti
Michèle Voltaire Marcelin as the Republic of Haiti
Michele Voltaire Marcelin & Maryse Coulanges
Michèle Voltaire Marcelin and Maryse Coulanges

Maryse Coulanges

Maryse Coulanges

mimiplay

Michele Voltaire Marcelin

Martina Bruno

Martina Bruno


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One Response to “haïti, holy republic of all attempts…”

  1. nathaniel says:

    wow, I would love to interview you. Take a look at my site and tell me if you would be interested in a collaboration. Let me finish reading about what you are doing here.

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