The storyline for Birds in the Moon is loosely based on the eccentric theory penned by 17th Century scientist Charles Morton, who hypothesized that birds migrate to the moon. According to Morton, birds migrated every year to the moon where they fed and reproduced. He believed that the majority of birds came back to earth with their offspring, yet the rest of them were simply lost in space. Charles Morton’s eccentricity serves the libretto with its main theme, the journey of the migrant – using the bird as a metaphor for a person, and the moon as a metaphor for a promised land or the wealthy countries of the so-called first world.
Birds in the Moon probes the fragility and vulnerability of the people who live on the economic, physical and psychological fringes in our society. Dishonesty, a lack of dignity, insolence, falsehood, unjustified use of force, inequality and corruption have become values in the narratives of the dominant elites in both political and economic spheres – all while hiding the real interests of money and power.
By exploring the challenges innate to human societies through the medium of theatre/opera, we seek to open a dialogue towards redefining our collective values. To begin this vital conversation, we have chosen to focus on the problems surrounding human migration, as a clear example of fractures in our economic, political and social systems which have discriminated against the disenfranchised for centuries. We tell a story inspired by both classic fables and folk tales which have enriched us in their parables from East to West.
In this fashion, Birds in the Moon tells the story of a bird-mother, who is half bird and half woman, and her bird-child in a desert. We probe their wastelands, dried by global warming, which forces migration to a more hospitable place where they can find basic resources such as water and food to survive.
In our mobile shipping container, a magic theatrical box of sorts, our story unfolds capturing the urgency of lives lived seeking a better world, the quest for a utopia, an escape to a far-off moon where it is believed abundance and harmony might be found.
Our protagonists show us how the obstacles of survival are dictated not only by the artificial abstractions of borders drawn by nations, but by the boundaries and limitations of the human consciousness. Our heroes battle the natural elements, a context from which they must escape, while fighting against the lack of awareness and empathy shown by our antagonist, an aging circus ringmaster and his traveling string quartet, who live hand to mouth entertaining passersby with their ‘trip to the moon’ show.
There are no good characters or bad characters in this work. Placing blame is a temptation, yet we must seek understanding of the reasoning and motivations behind each character and their actions. Our soulless villain shows his vulnerability, fragility and sense of humor. Our heroine is complex, weaving lies to knit a strategy to save her child.
Ultimately here, migration is not only a human practice but an integral aspect in the balance of our terrestrial ecosystem. We tell this story as a reflection of the very society in which we live today.