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John Kinzer
IU Department of Theatre and Drama

Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

IU Theatre and Drama to close fall season with biting satire 'Parentheses of Blood'

WHAT: Parentheses of Blood by Sony Labou Tansi, directed by Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe
WHEN: Opens Friday, Dec. 4, at 7:30 p.m. with additional shows Dec. 5 and Dec. 8-12 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee performance Dec. 12 at 2 p.m.
WHERE: All performances take place at the Wells-Metz Theatre. No photography or recording of any kind is permitted during performances.
TICKETS: $20 for adults, $15 for students/seniors; Student Rush Tickets, $12 cash with a valid IU Bloomington student ID on the day of each performance.

November 17, 2009

Bloomington, Ind. -- Indiana University's Department of Theatre and Drama wraps up the first half of its 2009-2010 Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center season with Sony Labou Tansi's darkly funny Parentheses of Blood under the direction of Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, assistant professor of acting and directing.

In a Theatre Circle lecture Dec. 3 (Thursday), at 5:30 p.m. in the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center's Bridgewaters Lounge, Nigerian playwright Femi Osofisan will discuss the life and work of his friend Sony Labou Tansi, whose tragic farce Parentheses of Blood was written16 years before Tansi's untimely death.

"Parentheses of Blood"

"Libertashio is dead! Do not utter those words out loud or you will be killed." Welcome to Tansi's satirical world, in which an unnamed totalitarian regime sends a troop of comic but brutal soldiers to kill a famed rebel leader who's already dead.

The horrifying absurdity is all too familiar to those who recognize a government abusing its power -- with incomprehensible, devastating actions. Parentheses of Blood is a timely exploration of politics, revolution and reality, shown through a comic lens sometimes obscured by violence and bloodshed. It's a farce of forcefulness, a burlesque of brutality and a comedy of cruelty.

When Cooper-Anifowoshe saw a production of Parentheses of Blood in French, she was struck at how the physical comedy translated across languages. Eventually, the play was translated into English.

"It is my responsibility to document the diversity that is within black African Literature," said Cooper-Anifowoshe.

With this play, she said, Tansi was making a point about education in post-colonial Africa. After independence was granted, the empires of France and Britain moved out of Africa, leaving most African states without stable political institutions -- and making it easy for powerful army leaders to take control of the government.

"Colonial education is a deliberate miseducation -- which leads to misrule," she said.

Tansi was a Congolese dramatist, novelist, theater director, actor and professor of English. Congo was under French colonial rule through Tansi's adolescent years and went through periods of military dictatorship before democratization. Tansi was a member of the opposing party in Congo and won a seat in the national assembly in 1993, just two years before his death.

The cast consists of two second-year MFA actors from the Department of Theatre and Drama, Shewan Howard (Hamlet, The America Play) and Henry McDaniel III (Oklahoma!, Dead Man Walking, Marisol). The design team consists of a trio of first- year MFA designers Tim Barbiaux (scenic designer), Colleen Metzger (costume designer) and Abby Wells (lighting designer).

For more information about the Department of Theatre and Drama, see