Day #89: The Oldest Boy

A couple of years ago, two friends treated us to seats for The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater. Written by Sara Ruhl and performed by a stellar cast, it’s a play about a woman whose three-year-old son is identified as the reincarnation of a revered Tibetan lama. The Lama and monk who come to visit and test the boy ask her to allow her son to be taken to their monastery in India to live. There are all manner of things to consider in this story. Faith. Motherhood. What if this happened to me? The various aspects of her decision are fascinating. But what kept me riveted to the story unfolding on the stage was the portrayal of the three-year-old by a puppet, a puppet who became so real to me that the end of the play was startling. Here I am, years later, still thinking about that play and the artistry of puppeteer Masanari Kawahara. If The Oldest Boy is staged near you, make every effort to experience it. I am grateful to our friends for sharing this deeply affecting play with us.

The cast of The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater
The cast of the The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater in 2016, featuring Tsering Dorjee Bawa, Eric “Pogi” Sumangil, Christina Baldwin, puppeteer Masanari Kawahara and Randy Reyes [photo by Dan Norman for Lavender magazine ]
Puppeteer Masanari Kawahara
Puppeteer Masanari Kawahara is at once visible and invisible in The Oldest Boy at the Jungle Theater. Unforgettable performance.
The cast of The Oldest Boy at Lincoln Center Theater
James Saito, Celia Keenan-Bolger and Jon Norman Schneider in The Oldest Boy at Lincoln Center Theater, where Sarah Ruhl’s play was first performced. [photo: T. Charles Erickson for Vulture ]

Leave a comment.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.