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Compère Lapin voyageur, Susan F. Spillman.

ISBN: 978-098573452-7 . $12.98

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Compère Lapin voyageur, Susan F. Spillman.

        From the Mysterious Forest of their African homeland, Compères Lapin and Bouki, together with other legendary animals who have enriched the traditions of Louisiana folklore over many years, take the stage in this simple yet complex play created by Susan Spillman. In their double role of storytellers and dramatis personae, our heroes are there not only to tell their stories but also to participate in the tragic diaspora of the slaves sent to the New World, for they themselves accompany the captives in the Middle Passage across the Atlantic, then help them to better endure their new life in Louisiana, all the while finding themselves separated from their families and friends in Africa.
        And soon their mythologizing presence as “a comfort and a hope for those who are severely oppressed” is completely understood:  since they are already known to the slaves as legendary figures, it is the memory of these animal characters and of the cultural heritage that they incarnate which gives consolation and courage and which allows them to return to their native land in their imagination and in their dreams. In other words, these Voyages bring to the stage their own cultural transmission across a transnational itinerary that leads to Haiti on the evening of the revolution and of a new era of freedom.  That event, which for a long time was “unthinkable” in the West, according to Michel-Rolph Trouillot, is told here in a way that answers the anthropologist’s call for history that is created outside the classroom and is more accurately transmitted in one’s own space, as he says, in the lessons learned at home and in children’s games.
                             Chris Michaelides