The Birds (a modern adaptation of Aristophanes’ comedy)

Written by:

Yvette Nolan

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:

Indigenous

Cast Size:
12

Roles For:

  • Men: 2
  • Women: 10

Genre:

Adaptation
Comedy
Indigenous Theatre

Themes:

Colonialism
Greek Play
Reconciliation

Length:

75 min.

Year Written:

2015

Synopsis:

In this updated version of Aristophanes’ classic comedy The Birds, two men flee the modern world, arriving in the fabled land of the birds seeking freedom and a better way of life. But the men are unable to resist remaking this utopian paradise in their own image, without regard for the inhabitants who already occupy the land. In this playful modern retelling, The Birds reflects on pressing contemporary Indigenous questions about truth and reconciliation.

Characters:

Jack / Gulliver / Sandpiper / Hoopoe / Nightingale / Raven / Priest / Poet / Surveyor / Agent / Lawyer / Eagle

First Produced:

2013, University of Regina

Resources:

The Birds is available on the CPO Website.

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Notes:

The Birds is an entertaining and intellectually-engaging adaptation of the classical Greek comedy. Vibrant and colourful costumes, coupled with well-designed forest props, add a sense of realism in what would otherwise be a purely fantastical world. Each performer and crew member played their roles exceptionally, showcasing the dedication that went into the work. At the end of the performance, the audience left the theatre pondering the nature of reconciliation in the present day.” – Review of McGill University Production, by Kevin Vogel

Featured Play Category:

Alexa's Picks
Barry's Picks

Selection Notes:

Yvette Nolan's adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds is an exceptionally well done piece, and expertly weaves together the Greek mythology of the original plot, and Indigineous creation stories and beliefs. The play uses song, dance, verse, and satire to explore the impacts of colonialism, and the future of truth and reconciliation. Simply by reading the script, it is apparent that this piece would allow directors and their ensembles of actors so much freedom to play with words and images, and make constant discoveries within the framework of Nolan's beautiful work. -Alexa

What charms me about Yvette Nolan's adaptation of Aristophanes' The Birds is that it tackles the critically important matter of reconciliation on these lands with a playful, satirical attitude. While histories of colonization rightly often receive serious treatments, there's much to be learned from other aesthetics and traditions, and here Nolan returns to this canonical Greek work to see what Aristophanes silly cast of philosophizing birds might have to say to us about the politics of land, place, home. Just like it did thousands of years ago, we're taken in by the good bird jokes, but Nolan, like her predecessor, has us reflecting on what makes a just and good society, too. An incredible piece to do with theatre students, provided you're game to take on some challenging costumes and/or puppets! -Barry.