Alternate Title The Final Beatitude
Premiere New York Premiere
Production Language Manipuri
Country of Origin India
Description Bursting through a chorus of chanting monks, the boy Ashok, upon seeing a begging bowl, selflessly offers up his sole possession: the dust beneath his bare feet. This simple gesture, profound in its implications, inspires a prophecy that he will one day rule the world. To the cacophonous roar of a great army, a maroon banner of war is unfurled and Ratan Thiyam's transcendent Uttar-Priyadarshi is underway.
Following more than one hundred appearances at international arts festivals including Edinburgh, Avignon, Adelaide, Dublin, and Japan's Mitsui, the eminent director Thiyam and his Chorus Repertory Theatre of Manipur (a culturally rich and politically unsettled region in India at the crossroads of South and Southeast Asia), present Uttar-Priyadarshi in their first visit to the United States. A spectacular epic of war and peace, the play traces the journey of Ashok, the 2nd-century BC emperor whose victory in the Kalinga War leads him to spiritual deliverance as the promulgator of Buddhism throughout South Asia.
The language of the piece is about much more than the conveyance of text. As rendered by Thiyam, it illuminates the ongoing and fundamental struggle between good and evil through a range of vivid imagery and sets. In a mesmerizing tapestry of rhythm, music, poetry, light, speech, and color, and performed with remarkably expressive and highly-stylized movement, Uttar-Priyadarshi is truly global in scope and ultimately universal in its implications.