Verse Drama By E. Thomalen
This play is adapted from a story by Horacio Quiroja called Juan Darien. It is a wild, exuberant, visionary tale probably based on Indian legends with Mayan roots. The play dramatizes a universal theme of loss and redemption, but also the destruction that comes to all from the rejection of the "outsider". It is to be performed in dance, with masks, magic, poetry and an improvisational musical accompaniment. Because of a heavy rhyme scheme it lends itself to a variety of musical styles: Latin, jazz, even ethereal Andean flute music.
The story tells how a plague hits a small village and kills its inhabitants. Only a woman survives, now a widow, who also lost her only child. She mourns in the midst of a jungle teeming with joyous fecund activity. A hunter enters the jungle and kills the mother of a jaguar kit but the kit escapes eventually finding the woman. She nurtures the kit and protects it against the hunter and a magical snake appears who transforms the kit into a replacement for the mother's lost son. The human mother raises Juan Darien until she dies of an illness. In the midst of his grief over her death a circus comes to town and he runs off to visit it. However, Juan Darien is wrongly accused of having designs on the wife of the Knife Thrower and he has to flee and is found in the cage of the wild animals in the morning.
The Animal Trainer suspects that he is one of them and tells the Mayor of the town who agrees and they hold a contest to discover if that is true. Juan Darien is startled to discover his early jungle memories and the Animal Trainer decides to see if he will respond like a wild animal to the whip. All the citizens in the town pick up the cruel behavior and they beat and lash Juan Darien and eventually tie him to a revolving fireworks display where he is severely burned. They finally cut him down when he is near to death and leave him near the jungle far from the town. The snake comes again and condemns Juan Darien's mistreatment at the hands of humans and gives Juan Darien herbs to heal his wounds. After he is healed physically he returns to the town as a tiger and waits for the Animal Trainer to come and leaps upon him from a tree and finally ties him to bamboo in a cane break and sets it on fire in an act of revenge. He stops by his human Mother's grave and finds that he can no longer speak and writes in his blood on her tombstone that he has died too and then goes into the jungle forever.
Running time without intermission: 75 minutes