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330. Play: Sad man
A man in mourning, coloured by his carbon mourning is making a fire. His wife has recently died, so he has to cook dinner by himself. He pulls a rope made of bark back and forth through a bamboo piece until it heats and smoke appears. The dry grass under the wood turns into flames but the fire quickly dies and he starts over again.
339. Play: Sad man (continued)
He finally gets enough flames to set the dry bark on fire. After drinking the water, brought inside the bamboo stems, the man fills the stems with beans and water grass. He places the filled stems on the fire. While the food is cooking, the man every now and then twists and turns the stems using bamboo tongs.
341. Play: Sad man (continued)
After a while he empties the bamboo on a tapa-cloth on the ground and tastes the food. He then burst out in sad screams, missing the taste of his wife's cooking. The man puts out the fire, packs and goes hunting.
345. Midsummer Festival
As cultural exchange we prepared to demonstrate some Swedish traditions from our Midsummer Festival. Together with John and Timo, we practised the wild dance "Små Grodorna" around our maypole. Later on we performed the dance in front of stunned spectators.
352. Arrival
Everything was still as the actors approached the scene; a grass plain located in the middle of the village. Many people had come to see the play, but almost all of the women and younger children had gone to a conference in Kanabea.
356. Play: Brothers
Two brothers living in a shelter combine smoking a pipe with hunting and preparing food. The tobacco pipe is made of bamboo stems, one large and one small, mounted perpendicularly. They inhale the smoke through the big stem and regulate the flow with the smaller.
354. Play: Ill wife
A man, his wife and child, live in a small shelter in the forest. It rains. The man and child work all day while the mother is at home cooking.
364. Play: Ill wife (continued)
The mother touches her forehead and falls to the ground. When the father and son come home she is still laying there. They try to raise her up but she is too limp to stand. The son is told to go and get the medicine man, but he is very tired so he goes first after some squabble.

After a few days the medicine man comes and prepares a greasy mess using rare plants most certainly growing only in darkness. He then applies the porridge to her and makes gestures from her stomach and out as if he is trying to drain her illness.

374. Play: Ill wife (continued)
After giving her some liquid through a bamboo stem, the medicine man whips out the evil spirits with a bundle of leaves. She screams and is getting notably better. Having succeeded the medicine man leaves.

The next day the father and son go out to work in the forest while the mother is resting. When they come home she is laying dead. The husband is furious. He takes his bow and arrow and goes hunting...for the medicine man.

376. Play: Ill wife (continued)
He shoots two arrows at the medicine man but misses. The medicine man successfully persuades him into letting him take a look at the wife again but she really is dead. Father and son bury her in a sitting position.
377. Play: Contemplation
A man and his two children live in a hut in the rainforest. Early every morning, the man goes out to get food and to hunt. Late in the evening he comes home. Exhausted and hungry he starts the tedious work of preparing food, meanwhile the children sit doing nothing. After the meal, the children fall asleep.
396. Play: Contemplation (continued)
The man sits by the fire crying. He falls asleep dreaming of having a wife. One morning he tells the children to work while he is away, but when he gets home they have done nothing. This is his life.

Another man living close-by has no children but two wives. His wives do all the work for him and he is really taken care of well. The play symbolises the anxiety in leaving the well-known society for the western way of life.

399. Play: Harvest Festival
The village farmers have gathered for a festival and each family has brought food from their own garden. One farmer is preparing a holy red fruit called Merita. It is so holy that you must not eat it if you have had a death in your family during the past year, also, women may not eat it.
400. Play: Harvest Festival (continued)
When the food is ready the festival participants eat. A man use a cassowary shoulder bone to eat with. In the background a short wiry man sneaks around while trying to fix the bowstring in its position. He is looking for a stolen Merita.
404. Play: Harvest Festival (continued)
The district president Pol-Mek Akika-Mpa narrates the unfolding play. We sit on a bench in front of the district building when suddenly we are invited to taste the food.
405. Play: Harvest Festival (continued)
The food consists of various roots, Merita sauce and algae, and is offered on "leaf plates". One of the plates was specially salted with saliva from chewing a certain plant.
406. Play: Harvest Festival (continued)
Adorned with pig tusks, we eat the spicy and tasty food. John, who is otherwise amused by the plays, is a bit worried about the food and he tells us to be careful.
407. Play: Harvest Festival (continued)
Enthusiastic applause is given as the actors line up. The actors thank us and we receive arrows, bows, pig tusks, a bilum, a tapa-cloth and feathered headgear as gifts. Unfortunately we can not accept all the gifts, so we donate some of them to the tourism office in Kerema.
411. Play: Sing Sing
A Sing Sing is a festival with men and women dancing and jumping to the rhythm of Kundu drums. Due to the lack of women, men disguised by twigs and leaves wholly play their parts.
417. Play: Sing Sing (continued)
Long feathers from a bird of paradise wave to and from the dancer's heads as they move frantically up and down.
418. Play: Sing Sing (continued)
The heavy equipment and the violent dance force the dancers to take short breaks. Some cheerful screams from the audience are enough the start the fun again.
419. Play: Sing Sing (continued)
With the Sing Sing, the plays were over and it was quickly getting darker. Pol-Mek, the village chiefs and Peter gave thank-you speeches. In return for our gifts we presented the village chiefs with handicrafts from Sweden.
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© 1999-2002  • Photos Nicklas Nordborg  • Texts Peter Waller and Thomas Nilsson