We've got good news & bad news. The bad news: you're dead. The good news? You can live forever! It's confusing, but we'll guide you through it. Watch out for crocodiles, & whatever you do, DON'T die again!
DIRECTOR & WRITER: Emilia Seay Allen
MUSIC DIRECTOR & COMPOSER: Joshua Weinberg
ENSEMBLE: Parker Genné, Sean Hansberry, Amber Lee Olivier, Gregory Parks
INSTRUMENTALISTS: Frances Olson, Nick Omeish, & Joshua Weinberg
DESIGNERS: Ashley Burdash & Amber Lee Olivier
ARABIC MUSIC, LANGUAGE, & CULTURE CONSULTANT: Nick Omeish
PHOTOGRAPHY: Tom Northenscold
PERFORMANCE VENUE: The Casket Arts Building, NE Minnneapolis, for the MN Fringe Festival
The civilization we call Ancient Egypt stretched over a period of more than 3000 years and included disparate regions with varying cultures and beliefs that changed over time. This civilization produced incredible scientific, technological, agricultural, and artistic fruits, some of which would disappear with that civilization and not return to Western knowledge for centuries. We have delighted in learning just a little about this incredible culture.
- Nail polish was commonly used in Egypt, and the color signified class
- Crocodile dung was used as both contraception and an abortifacient—and it was probably somewhat effective (at least as birth control—it’s spermicidal!)
- The Ancient Egyptians knew that certain molds (bread mold, in particular) were effective at combating infection—way, way before penicillin was invented
- Bastet the feline-headed was indeed a part of the pantheon, and the Egyptians did revere cats. When the family cat died, it was customary for the whole family to shave their eyebrows in mourning!
It’s no surprise that the religion of such a culture was deep, complex, and ever-changing. The Ancient Egyptians saw symbols of death and rebirth everywhere: in the annual flooding of the Nile, in the setting and rising of the sun, even in the eggs that hatched from the dung balls rolled by the Scarab beetle. They believed that their leaders were divine, and would be deified when they died. The Egyptian Book of the Dead is the record of the help they provided the pharaohs to navigate the underworld. They believed that the body was necessary for rebirth (hence mummification), and that the soul split into parts upon death; however, all parts needed to recognize one another and reunite for the person to be deified. We also believe that all parts need to recognize one another in order to move on.
The Book of the Dead is a collection of songs, hymns, or spells, which were painted on the sides of the sarcophagus, in the temple, or written on papyrus and tucked into and pinned onto the linen wrappings of the mummy. Each of these was necessary to navigate the perils of the underworld, face the gods, and prove oneself equal to those gods. Parts of the esoteric and poetic Book of the Dead read less like praise than like a rap brag: