By Rem Myers
In The Black Glove, the fifth opus of the Chamber Plays, the nickname of the characters’ house is ‘The Tower of Babel,’ with different people from different socio-economic backgrounds living and working together, all crammed under the same roof. For those of you who missed out on the wonders of Sunday school, Hebrew school, CCD (woot!), or any other sort of Abrahamic religious class, let me share the tale.
Once upon a biblical time, a whole team of people who all spoke the same language came together to build a tower high enough to reach God. Unsurprisingly, God was not too psyched about this idea and cursed the team, which resulted in the workers speaking different languages. Communication broke down, chaos ensued, the tower was abandoned, and elementary school children began taking Spanish or French.
In The Ghost Sonata, the third opus in the cycle, Strindberg also speaks on this diaspora of languages, not as a result of a curse, but as a conscious choice.
“Languages actually arose among primitive peoples as an attempt to hide the secrets of the tribe from outsiders. That means that languages are ciphers, and he who finds the key can understand all the languages of the world.” (Old Man)
However, in The Black Glove, the Tower of Babel does not represent a barrier of foreign understanding, or a way to keep secrets hidden, but a melting pot of different people working together.
I like to think of our rehearsal space as a Tower of Babel in The Black Glove sense; many people from different backgrounds, working in our small room on Taylor Street. Just the other day, on our Sunday rehearsal, we had 20 people moving around and contributing to the production of the play. We had designers, sound, lights, and set. We had stage managers and directors. We had actors, old and young, non-equity and equity, company members and newcomers. And interns (including, of course, yours truly). All of us, working together, making these plays come to life.
Thankfully we do all speak the same language and have no desires to keep secrets from each other. As far as I know…