Red Sun

'We were our own masters. And we had a sacred tree... It was the tree of our life. And only one among us ever knew its name.' The magician Wana-Apu (Iain Armstrong) tells his creature Adamu (Mick Jasper) how their people lived before the 'sick strangers' came. AJTC: first tour, 2003.

Published 2011 by Intellect Books UK/USAISBN 978-1-84150-427-8

An island in the Third World. A foreign Company exploit the natural resources and abuse the native tribe. In his rage and pain at what his people suffer, the tribal magician uses his magic craft to create a subhuman creature of clay, whom he sends to do acts of terrorism among the oppressors, to punish them and try to frighten them away. Inevitably, he has created something more than he can control...

Red Sun was written to commission from the two-man touring company AJTC. I had seen them on the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2000 in a somewhat 'head-driven' play, and met them socially on that occasion. I felt very honoured when, some eighteen months later, they wrote to ask would I consider writing a piece for them to tour. Honoured - and challenged too, for I had discerned a visceral power in these actors, struggling to break free. So, although there's many a different sort of play I could have written for them, on many a different theme - and we did discuss several subjects - from the very beginning I was drawn toward a more mythic, primordial drama, that would release on the space that visceral force that I had sensed. From the synopsis outline above, one can see that Red Sun tells an ancient tale. Frankenstein is one recent manifestation; another, closer, is the Jewish legend of the Golem of Prague - and many years ago I had indeed tried a 'golem' project with Peter Brook, and abandoned it. I was making use now of lessons that that disappointment had taught me.          

But behind any more recent manifestations of this story-motif there will always be the Creation myth, and in the creature's name Adàmu is an acknowledgment of that. Another source is the investigative work done by Roger Casement in the 1900s into atrocities committed by Belgian and Portuguese rubber companies against native peoples of the Congo and Upper Amazon. (It may surprise some to learn that the famous 'live to work/work to live' antinomy that people use so glibly now was originally coined by Casement - in a diary entry recording a homosexual encounter with a 'native' man.) The character of Wana-Apu is not strictly a shaman - he is more an obi priest or a witch-doctor, with some shamanic attributes, some drawn from Siberian and Indonesian cultures. The story of the tree comes from Zimbabwe. There are images too that echo the World Trade Centre attacks of 'September 11th' - by an ironic coincidence the same date, two years later, of the play's first performance. All told, the play itself mines many seams - a paradoxical richness perhaps, for it is very distilled and condensed.The first performance of the 2003 tour was at The Maltings, Farnham.Wana-Apu Iain ArmstrongAdàmu Mick JasperDesign Maz BullenMusic Dirk CampbellMovement Becky EdmundsDirector Geoff Bullen