[The following is a guest post from Tricycle's Copy Editor Karen Ready.]
I'm puzzled that virtually no New York bloggers have posted anything about Evan Brenner's work in progress The Buddha-In His Own Words, a one-man performance of excerpts from the life and teachings of the Buddha taken directly from the vast collection we know as the Pali canon. These texts form the basis of the Theravada tradition: discourses, teachings, monastic rules, and philosophical texts attributed in large part to the Buddha and his disciples, they were passed on orally and committed to writing only after the Buddha's death. The play is the result of some four years of work (so far) on Brenner's part to "assemble the life of the Buddha." I like his choice of "assemble": in fact, Mark Epstein has referred to the play as "masterfully crafted," and both terms provide a good sense of Brenner's deceptively simple eighty-minute creation, like the attentive folding of an origami shape. Here the actor-playwright takes on all the roles, from the young prince who leaves his royal surroundings to seek an answer to the world of suffering and death he finds beyond the palace gates, to those he encounters along the way (including Mara the tempter), to members of his ever-growing following as well as opponents who brought tragedy to his later years.