La MaMa E.T.C.

unnamed (1).jpg

"War is like having a sick child," said Yoshiko Chuma, adding, "you either keep doing your job or not." She did her job when she and The School of Hard Knocks traveled to Sarajevo in 1999 to perform at the MESS Sarajevo International Theatre Festival in Bosnia with a piece called "Footprints of War." The show went on, but getting the set back from Sarajevo, in time for an engagement at the Joyce, was a drama in itself: a 2½ month administrator's nightmare of mis-communications, frayed emotions, botched promises, excuses and cultural challenges. 

The mountains of emails and correspondence relating to this set became the starting point of the script for "PI = 3.14: Hiroshima-New York-Belgrade-New York-Sarajevo-New York-Kabul." The math part of the title stood for "endless, continuous circles of life and war," according to Chuma. The resulting production turned into a spoken and choreographed work that dealt with large issues of war, displacement, and the parallels between Chuma's youth in postwar Japan and the lives of the performers, who have all had wartime experiences of their own. They included Tea Alagic, an expatriate artist from the city of Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Talijancic, a Croatian-born actor, Jim DiBiasio, an American actor who has lived through three wars, and Wazma Osman, a 27 year-old Afghan woman who walked over the Pakistani border to freedom in 1980, yet returned in 1999 and met Taliban repression face-to-face. Chuma attempted to bring out the parallels between hers and each person's story--between 1945 Japan, 1995 Sarajevo and 2002 Kabul.