From the Circle: Remembering the Earth through Folktales at Filament Theatre Ensemble | Theater review
Filament’s ensemble-devised collection of myths aims to remind us of our connections to the earth and each other.
Filament’s mission includes an admirable commitment to producing “sustainable” theater; this production’s design footprint, for example, “includes less than one pound of mined materials.” Also impressive: The set was made with reclaimed or locally grown wood and lumber, the costumes from recycled fabrics.
The larger aim of reconnecting the individual to the natural world is manifest beyond form. The content of the tales presented in From the Circle evinces a desire to communicate what it is to be a human being in the world. The explanations, of course, are fanciful; this was the world understood before science. Filament suggests that, despite our sophistication, we need these creation myths. At its best, From the Circle testifies to the human need to make sense of the erratic, uncontrollable world we inhabit. We’re hardwired for storytelling, and Filament wants to remind us of how that unites us to the earth and to each other. Actors reach out to members of the small audience; at play’s end, someone is handed a stone from the stage—a symbolic suggestion to continue the storytelling beyond the theater space.
Without a larger, specific narrative driving the entire work, each piece is dependent on the individual storyteller and the evocative use of music. Punctuated by a spiritual song, Tiffany Williams’s tale of slaves flying back to Africa is haunting and memorable. Despite an earnest enthusiasm, not all the tales achieve this level of gravitas. Still, the company’s unique vision has me looking forward to returning to its circle.