"Dan Furst becomes Rumi in his illustrious portrayal of the Sufi poet. Each scene is a revelation and the poems are so clearly elucidated and emphasized by movement, music, expression and feeling that one forgets we are not in the room with the great and favorite poet himself.
I've had the delight and privilege of attending this performance twice, and each time the choice of material, the luminating gestures and the beautiful music was exciting and relaxing at once. It is a memorable evening, one that your heart will be gladdened by."
Catie Faryl, The Chamber of Commons, Ashland, OR
Selected Production History
2003: The Arts at Mark's in Honolulu, HI with Sangeet Gellhorn, Flute, Lawrence Ward, oud, Ivan Krillzarin and Nuri Martin, percussion, and dervish turning by Valerie Noor Karima and Fatush
2007: Honolulu Academy of Arts, featured presentation for the International Year of Rumi, with Steven Rosenthal, flutes and pipes, and Reggae McGowen, percussion and dervish turning by Aisha Allen
2010: Unity Church on the Plaza, Kansas City, MO with Alauddin Ottinger, drums and dervish turning by Habiba Dollard
2011: Asheville, NC with Frederick Zarro, Guitar and James Little, drums
2012: The Grange, Ashland, OR, with Seabury Gould, bouzouki and flute, Marko Zonka, drums and Nils Olof Soderback, violin and dilruba, and dervish turning by Yahya Suzanna Nadler
The Grange, Arcata, CA, with Seabury Gould, Marko Zonka, Nils Olof Soderback and dervish turning by Mary Flowers
2013: El Molle, Pisac, Peru, with Luis Bergmann, guitar, Eduardo Santana, flutes and vocals, Julied Pratima Piña, drum and vocals
2014: El Molle Pisac, Peru, with Eran Fakir, ney; Eduardo Santana, guitar and vocals; Zeger Gabriel Vandenbussche, clarinet, jaw's harp and vocals; Julied Pratima Piña, vocals; and Jean Piel, harp, cora and drum
Maha Templo, Pisac, Peru, with Eran Fakir, ney; Eduardo Santana, guitar and vocals; Zeger Gabriel Vandenbussche, clarinet, jaw's harp and vocals; Julied Pratima Piña, vocals and harmonium; Jean Piel, harp, cora and drum; and dervish turning by Aziza Isaac
AN EVENING WITH RUMI
A Journey into Sacred Words, Music, and Dervish Turning
In a vivid, lively montage of Rumi poetry and “first person” narrative threads, the life, levity and luminosity of Rumi himself all come alive onstage, as award-winning actor Dan Furst bodies forth the revered, reverently irreverent poet Rumi himself, LIVE! In this delightful one-man play, based on translations from Coleman Barks and Jonathan Star, Dan Furst does not merely “recite” Rumi -- he dramatically “embodies” the great poet with verve, aplomb, and gusto!
With sound and mood-scape accompaniment by musicians Eran Fakir on ney and flutes, Eduardo Santana on guitar, mandoureya and vocals, Zeger Gabriel Vandenbussche on clarinet, mouthharp and vocals, Julied Pratima Piña on harmonium, abuela flute and vocals, Jean Piel on Andean harp, kora and drum, and dervish turning by Aziza Isaac, we evoke an atmosphere of earthy passion and ecstatic reflection amplified by “living presence” in dramatic action, verse, and song.
An Evening with Rumi in Pisac, Peru, April 2014 (L - R): Eran Fakir (ney and flute),
Julied Pratima Piña (harmonium, abuela flute, vocals), Jean Piel (Andean harp, cora, drum), Eduardo Alejandro Santana (guitar, bandaraya,vocals), Zeger Vandenbussche (clarinet, mouth harp, vocals), Dan Furst (Rumi), Leticia Sideris (stage manager)
About Mevlana, Jalaluddin Rumi
The parents of Jalaluddin Rumi knew well the theme that appears so often in his poetry: the pain of separation, and the longing to return.
The family lived in Kars, Afghanistan, until 1201, when they fled from the approach of Genghis Khan, and settled in Konya, in Turkey Turkey. Rumi was born in 1207, and lived as a respected scholar until he was 37, when he experienced the life-changing "glance": his first meeting with the itinerant Sufi teacher Shams, from Tabriz in Iran. The two men formed a profound spiritual friendship that changed Rumi from an intellectual who had never written much to an astoundingly prolific poet. His most admired work, The Mathnawi, is as long as the works of Shakespeare.
Rumi's way of writing was intuitive. He did not craft his poems, but poured them out as he walked through the town, usually flanked by scribes who wrote the words down as the poet turned and spoke, and the people gathered to listen.
Rumi's stories are deliciously dramatic, and not only because of their vivid characters, dreamlike changes of direction and gorgeous imagery. To actors, it makes sense that Rumi spoke his poetry in public as he walked to the school, the assembly hall, the town square, likely too "dissolved in love" to deliver "performances," much less "act" for effect on an audience. Yet his conversational style, and his images that flow like jazz rather than verse, seem to show that the poet knows others are present when he speaks, and they may even be having fun listening to him -- and he knows they are present.
Coleman Barks writes in Rumi Illuminated, "Rumi is the 13th-century sufi mystic, whose ability to open the heart so dissolved the boundaries of religion that he made human friendship and the longing to merge with the Source one thing. His spontaneously-spoken poetry celebrates the sacredness of everyday life and gives voice to the soul's deepest mysteries."
Those who have preserved Rumi's words and seek to apply his teachings are called the Mevlevi Order, and refer to the poet as Mevlana, the Master. It is said that when Rumi passed away in 1274, people from every faith in Konya walked in his funeral procession: Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and all came to honor the one who spoke for them all, and for the truth of every sacred tradition.
About the Artists
Dan Furst has worked as an actor, singer, ceremonial artist, stage combat director and producer in theatre, film and TV in New York, Europe, India, Japan, Hawaii and Egypt. He has also published two books: Dance of the Moon (Llewellyn, 2009) and Surfing Aquarius (Red Wheel Weiser, 2011), recently published also in a Spanish Edition as Navegando por Acuario by Ediciones Obelisco in Buenos Aires.
Dan is the first actor to play Rumi onstage. He has been blessed by the kind permission of Coleman Barks, Jonathan Star and Kabir Helminski to use their translations, and by the brilliant intuition, musicianship and devotion of the master musicians and dervishes who have joined An Evening with Rumi in the ten years since it first appeared (See Production History in left column.) Dan lives in the Sacred Valley near Cusco, Peru.
Eduardo Alejandro Santana was born in Venezuela, into a family of musical prodigies. He began to play guitar at 12, then flutes, percussion and other instruments as he absorbed influences of dark rock, hardcore and metal as well as folk music. He played with several experimental groups, notably the Kaujaro Jazz Ensemble, Banda La Redonda (salsa- hiphop-funk), La Gente (folk-rock-reggae) and VnzlaNDub. "The range of instrumentation and genre approach," he says, "is as wide as the ocean of blessings we receive when we meet kind souls who share their passion for beauty as deeply as we do. It is prayer. Nowadays I am surrounded by many talented musicians and carriers of the flame of family, creative voices raising harmony."
Zeger Gabriel Vandenbussche studied philosophy at the University of Gent (Belgium) and Sevilla (Spain) and saxophone at the Royal Conservatory of Gent, Belgium. Further studies involved workshops at the School for Improvised Music in New York and study of Indian classical music in northern India. He worked extensively with the Brussels-based theatre company Ensemble Leporello as a doublebass player and composer. As an active member of the European jazz and improvisational music scene, based in Berlin, he toured in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Portugal, playing reed instruments and doublebass. Zeger claims to be musically influenced by the sound of spinning neutrons, multiplying cells and sunbeams penetrating the atmosphere, but considering the frequency range of the humanoid ear, that’s not very likely.
Graphic designer, illustrator, singer and dancer, Julied Pratima Piña has been learning more about music in the last 3 years in the Sacred Valley in Peru. Born in Venezuela, she learned to dance at a very young age and kept practicing for 8 years, and has always been passionate about music, singing and dance as ways of expression of her soul. She now also uses the drum, flute and harmonium, as well as her voice and dance, as part of her therapies of healing sounds.
Jean Piel was born in France in 1959. A major life change at 24 began a period of travel that soon led him to Gabon, Africa, where he was initiated into the Iboga tradition. He learned to play the N'gombi (the African harp used in Iboga ritual) and also the Kora harp. He and his partner later moved to Mexico, where they started Dharmas, a band that played regularly at hotels, restaurants and festivals and other events in Mexico and Canada. Jean moved to Peru three years ago, now lives in Pisac, and plays music in medicine ceremonies and performances where he works with many different musicians on a variety of new music projects.
Aziza Maria is a performer, teacher, and choreographer. She has dedicated years of study to the art of Oriental Dance. Trained in Egypt under the finest teachers in Egyptian Cabaret, she has been performing professionally for more than 10 years, showcasing her art in the U.S.A, South America, Turkey, Arabia and Egypt. Her unique style is artistic and full of expression conveying the essence of Egyptian Belly dance. Currently living in Peru, Aziza is teaching classes to students at all levels.
The Turning of the Dervishes
Everyone has heard of the "whirling dervishes," but few dervishes try -- or want -- to explain what they do. People committed to the dervish path become semazens who practice in song, movement and meditation to refine their "turning," and prepare for sema ceremonies sema in which nine or more semazens, forming a geometric design, all turn together in a communal ritual of music and turning. Semazens always turn to the left. Why? Because the heart is to the left of the center line of the body, so by turning to the left the dervish turns on the axis of the heart.
Balance is easier to keep, and the dervish can enter deep meditation and bliss states. In the turning, the dervish seeks the ecstasy of direct union with God, so that, in Rumi's words, "all qualities of doingness disappear."
Pieces of Mevlana
Come in! The Beloved is here. We are all drunk.
No one notices who enters or leaves.
Don't sit outside in the dark, alone, wondering.
"The House of Love," translation by Kabir Helminski
What I do is born out of love,
Not malice or spite.
I am here to make your heart
a shrine of love,
not a pen for holding sheep.
I Cried Out at Midnight, version by Jonathan Star
I am a sky where spirits live.
Stare into this deepening blue,
while the breeze says a secret.
Like This, version by Coleman Barks
Nightingales are kept in cages because their songs give pleasure.
Who ever heard of keeping a crow?
Passion can restore healing power, and prune the weary boughs
back to new life. The energy of passion is everything!
In Baghdad Dreaming of Cairo, version by Coleman Barks
In the hand of love I'm like a cat in a bag,
Lifted up and whirled around overhead.
That's how much control I have over circumstances.
"Full Moon, Bilal," version by Coleman Barks
We have fallen into the place where everything is music.
Where everything is Music, version by Coleman Barks
Friend, I've shrunk to a hair
trying to tell your story.
Would you tell mine?
I've made up so many love stories,
Now I feel fictional.
The Fragile Vial, version by Coleman Barks
Videos of recent performances in Pisac, Peru are now on Vimeo.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or Dan Furst on Facebook.