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Midsummer Noon - Drama Review
This week I am reviewing, Midsummer Noon: A Narrative of the Life of the Báb, Who is revered by Bahá'ís as a Prophet in His own right, as well as the Forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet/Founder of the Bahá'í Faith.
This CD is a recently re-mastered recording of an audio play from the late 1990s. It is essentially a dramatic reading, though not a bunch of boring speakers recounting historical events. There may be no special effects, alien spaceships, fantastic costumes, or car chases, but the alignment of short biographical sketches is so perfect that tension builds almost relentlessly.
It is a sweeping history of the short-lived Bábi Faith, using as its narrative the recollections of the people who knew Him: mother, wife, believers and onlookers. The voices each tell their own story, and bring to life a historical setting and events that may at first seem very far away from our Western world. The various scenes are so carefully wrought that the whole is quite breathtaking, even if you already know the story.
For those who do not know the details, the story of the Báb's early life, His proclamation in 1844 that turned Persian society on its ear, the suffering and eventual martyrdom, can seem very far away and not very creditable. But dramatized by skilled readers, the people and events come to life. And some of those events were pretty spectacular, according to witnesses within and without the Faith. Even Western scholars were aware of the turmoil caused by this obscure religion in a dark corner of the civilized world.
I have a much-used cassette from the original release, and I'm delighted to have it again in an updated medium. It was produced by Live Unity Productions, Jack Lenz and Rick Shurman, copyright 1998. Recorded and mixed by Peter Mann at Sounds Interchange in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The audio was re-mastered by Jon Rezin.
There are two dates within the life of the Báb which Bahá'ís commemorate: His declaration, and His Martyrdom, on or about May 23 and July 9 in Western calendars. Both can be emotionally charged--one festive and full of joy, and the latter gut wrenchingly sad. But emotional response requires being able to relate, never easy from reading dry text so far removed from either the time or the culture.
Which is why I love this production! Midsummer Noon was written and produced specifically to help modern, predominantly western, youth feel the drama of the events and lives in the early years of their Faith. Works for the rest of us, too.
* I am not affiliated with the artists or publisher, and the CD was purchased for personal use."
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