After Death, There's Life Dec 23, 2008
This play by the Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore is one of those pieces of literature that truly deserves to be remembered and admired as it was in London in 1914, when William Butler Yeats remarked that this little play "...is very perfectly constructe and conveys to the right audience an emotion of gentleness and peace." To Western eyes, at first glance, a play about a dying child may see morbid. The reader and theatregoer quickly realize, however, that Amal, the moribund boy, simply wants to experience the world through they eyes of a common dairyman and receive a letter from the king. He appreciates the small things in life and wants to live his life to the fullest, without pity or decadence. The thought of death barely enters his mind. It is, then, without coincidence, that the play was aired over the radio during Europe's darkest hours under Nazi occupation in World War II. The most poignant performance of the play was in July 1942, in the Warsaw Ghetto, when the Polish doctor, educator, writer, and children's rights activist Janusz Korczak had the children in his orphanage stage this play. As with the central character, Amal, the children were better able to accept death as part of life, preparing for certain death that awaited them. For in accepting death one can affirm life.