Andreas Mitisek: To this we’ve come: that men withhold the world from men. These words – sung by Magda Sorel in The Consul – ring as true today as they did at the premiere in 1950. WW II and its aftermath displaced 65.3 million Europeans between 1940 and the 1950s. Today, - according to the United Nations Refugee Agency- "an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Nearly 20 people are forcibly displaced every minute as a result of conflict or persecution."
To this we’ve come: that man be born a stranger upon God’s earth, that he be chosen without a chance for choice, that he be hunted without the hope of refuge... sings Magda. Warfare, disease, famine, and political unrest have caused the displacement of millions. The troubles facing both refugees and sanctuary nations have remained constant throughout history. Art has always provided a voice of inspiration and comfort during times of human tragedies. In Euripides’s play Children of Heracles, written in 430 B.C., Athenian king Demophon faces civil war for taking in refugees. Of course, we know the same tragedies take place the world over- in every place, at any time. Though they may be stories of a different color and tone, the plight is the same and eternally new. Any of us could be in Magda’s place “yearning to breathe free.”
In fact, stage director Andreas Mitisek — who may add this to the list of his many fine achievements — has conceived The Consul as an expressionist drama, and an expressionism reminiscent of early German cinema... Mitisek offers some of his best and most evocative ideas to the stage action. The refugees slowly entering while drawing black wooden chairs behind them has a tragic force. In the final scenes, these chairs come to represent the refugees themselves as the chairs soar off into the heavens in a symbolic vision of mass suicides. A single illuminated rope — death and transcendence — falls down to Magda standing on her chair.
Alan Muraoka’s grim, monolithic set vividly portrays the totalitarian state in which the action takes place, while lending an atmosphere of surreal unreality that is complemented by Andreas Mitisek's stage direction, which shifts between fanciful, sometimes dreamlike movement and harsh reality.
Centinela Valley Center for the Arts
Andreas Mitisek — stage director / costume designer
Kristof Van Grysperre — conductor
Alan E. Muraoka — set designer
David Jaques — lighting designer
Patricia Racette, soprano — Magda Sorel
Justin Ryan, baritone — John Sorel
Audrey Babcock, mezzo-soprano — The Secretary
Victoria Livengood, mezzo-soprano — The Mother
Cedric Berry, bass-baritone — Secret Police Agent
Nathan Granger, tenor — The Magician (Nika Magadiorff)
Jamie Chamberlin, soprano — The Foreign Woman
Lara Ryan — Anna Gomez, voice on record
Kira Dill-DeSurra, mezzo-soprano — Vera Boronel