My good friend (and hero) Joshua Dumas is back with another one of his excellent “semi-operas”. This one, titled Here Are Lions, explores war and social change through the lens of a Chicago family struggling with Alzheimer’s and post-traumatic stress disorder, as told by a ghost and three clowns (one of whom sings arias).
In June 1968, a young salesman returns home to Chicago to care for his mother who is suffering from dementia. As she drifts between confusion and clarity, we see glimpses of her past, her son’s future, and the social change sweeping Chicago and the nation in the late 60s. Our guide on this journey is the man’s father, killed in WWII, but whose ghost is shunted through time and space whenever a story is told. He tumbles through the twentieth century, witness to wars, counter culture, corruption, and the mundane.
Prodded by his mother’s social worker, a peace activist, the son begins to engage in the turmoil surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention. His mother deteriorates. The protest movement explodes. The ghost finds his family. The son begins to discover a place at home and in nation, until plucked from both to serve in Vietnam. Years later, drifting, turned onto the streets, we find him still searching.
Here Are Lions runs from May 4th through June 2nd at Elastic Arts Foundation. Tickets are $12. It’s BYOB. I highly recommend checking it out. Josh described it as a cross between “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Slaughterhouse Five, but with singing and Alzheimer’s and Ronald Reagan.” Go see one for the Gipper.