THE PERILS OF RA

 

THE PEOPLE-WHO-COULD-AFFORD-IT

BRAVE THE PERILS OF RA

 

by  DAVID  MACFARLANE

 

 

 

 

FOREWORD

 

Nowadays, when so many weird and ridiculous ideas about ancient Egypt flourish, with the blessing of irresponsible publishers, journalists and TV producers, who have no remorse after inflicting on the public all sorts of strange versions about what ancient Egypt was like, it is not surprising that some reasonable people take this whole circus with a bit of humour and write parodies reflecting those views and the public that seems to enjoy them.

Many years ago, a play was produced in Toronto, Canada, under the title of "Ra", which tried to convey to us the world of the ancient Egyptian afterlife, as we know it from the texts and tomb paintings. In such cases, there is a very thin line that separates the sublime from the grotesque and some producers apparently don't know what the difference is between one and the other.

In August 1983, a Canadian journalist, David Macfarlane, wrote a brilliant piece for the Toronto magazine "Saturday Night", that we are reproducing here for the benefit of those who couldn't attend this very peculiar performance which, through Macfarlane's eyes, becomes a hilarious and sobering experience and also a warning to those who may wish to attempt a similar imaginative feat.

 

 

Behold. The sun is setting behind the Inn on the Park of Toronto and the freight trains that cross the ravine of the Ontario Science Centre thunder forth from the bridge. Ra, who is the sun god, is descending into the great darkness which is Don Mills, and his initiates have been gathered to stand on the hillside in their sneakers. It was decreed by R. Murray Schafer who is the creator of RA, that on this night of music and dramatic display, the initiates should be seventy-five in number, each bearing one of the sun god's secret names. But reviews were lukewarm and nights were cold, and there are but twenty-one.

The Heirodules, who are the guides for this long night, wore flowing robes. "You may rest here", they say, "See. The procession of the king begins in the east". Their language is like unto that of Jeannie who was dreamed of.

As is foretold, the procession of the king follows the winding path of the deep ravine. With beating of drums and incantation, the chorus of priests and dancers accompanies the sarcophagus on its journey toward the western sky. The music of their passage is of great beauty, but from the west there come two cyclists who do not expect to encounter a king's procession so close to Eglinton and Don Mills Road.

"Aach !", says the One-Who-Brakes-Quickly, "What's that?" Her question is answered by The-Husband-Who-Reads-Entertainment- Sections. "That is RA. It's an eleven-hour show about Egyptian gods. See all those people standing on the hill? They're paying a hundred and fifty bucks a crack to spend the night in the Science Centre".

For R. Murray Schafer dreamed a dream, and the dream was told to the Canada Council. And the Council paid heed, for R. Murray Schafer is a great composer and had dreamed this kind of dream before. And the dream was that each night for ten nights, seventy-five people who did not have to worry about work the next day would pass the long hours of the dark night with Ra in the underworld, which would be the Ontario Science Centre. And the followers of Ra would wear white robes and striped head-dresses, and they would descend long staircases full of smoke and screaming people. And when the sky lightened in the east, which is Scarborough, they would ascend the unmoving escalators of the Science Centre and celebrate the rebirth of Ra, for it is written that the sun is as a beetle that pushes its ball of dung across the heavens.

O followers of Ra. The night is cold, and the dangers many, and after the king's procession there are still almost three hours of standing outside. And these hours are full of instruction and music and envy of those who have down jackets. And when the doors of the Science Centre are finally opened, the initiates receive hibiscus tea to refresh themselves and they go to the washrooms, which are a shock. For the washrooms are brightly lit, and there is nothing that can be done to a urinal to make it look Egyptian.

It is in the Room of Stars that, one by one, the initiates are named their secret names. And they are warned not to forget these names, for the names shall protect them from the gods who are deranged and have big knives. And twice does Baboon-of-the-Netherworld introduce himself to a raving deity as Baboon-of-the-Netherlands, and twice do the gods show mercy on a stupid Dutch monkey, and let him pass.

And there is a great feast in celebration of Ra's victory over the dreaded serpent Apophis. And one of the initiates says unto a servant, "Where is the food from?"  -meaning to which god would thanks be given for tahinah dip and baklava. And the servant replies, "From an Egyptian caterer". And a great weariness descends on the initiates.

So it is that the twenty-one followers of Ra sleep on slabs of foam rubber for one hour. And they are awakened by Amente Nufe, which is a tape of Maureen Forrester. And The-Husband-Who-Went-Along falls back to sleep, for he thinks that the radio alarm has gone off and this is Stereo Morning.

But lo, the hours are passing, and behold, in the east, the sun is rising behind the Xerox building. The litany of RA is finished and joyously do the followers of Ra traipse down the walkway from the Science Centre. Joyous are the cymbals and joyous as the night shift is the going home of cars, but for the one that is with a dead battery.

"Where are the gods when you need them?", asks a follower of Ra. And as the beetle pushes its ball of dung across the heavens, four initiates push a grey Peugeot across the parking lot of the underworld.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE HOW MODERN ARCHAEOLOGISTS WORK HARD USING SOPHISTICATED TECHNIQUES TO RECOVER EGYPT“S WONDERFUL PAST:

 

PRESS HERE TO SEE THEM WORKING

 

 

 

 

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A TERRIBLE CURSE ON ACADEMIC

EGYPTOLOGISTS ... AND THEIR FAMILIES !!

 

 

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY HE WAS SO ANGRY WHEN AFTER MANY MONTHS AFTER HIS CURSES, NOTHING HAPPENED:

 

SEE HOW ANGRY HE WAS...

 

 

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EGYPTOLOGIST IS CRUELLY

TORTURED IN GERMANY !!

 

 

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PRESS HERE TO READ ABOUT GREAT

RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERY

 

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FIND OUT ABOUT OUTSTANDING DISCOVERY

MADE BY AN INDEPENDENT RESEARCHER !

 

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The Y2K Bug ! How it frightened so many people who thought their computers would suddenly freeze or go crazy on 1st January 2000. Nothing much happened, but IT WASN'T ALWAYS SO... In ancient Egypt they suffered the TERRIBLE consequences of the MINUS 2K BUG ! Find out about this, by

CLICKING HERE...

 

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This picture is far from humorous but rather sad and it portrays a group of American lady tourists at the end of the 19th Century enthusiastically defacing an ancient Egyptian monument to take home a representative example of Egyptian art. Even sadder is realizing that this sort of practices hasn't stopped and vandalism by tourists is still a major concern for the people at the Egyptian Antiquities Council. But no such concern seems to have troubled these high-spirited ladies shown here busy at work. Couldn't anyone provide them at least with a decent hammer??!! That could easily have been the comment of the one holding the parasol...

 

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