Theatre Preview: How far will we go to hold on to the worlds we create?

‘The Cheyenne are Leaving’ is a new play that explores themes of isolation, migration and home – an intimate drama that delves into the personal price of war

The Cheyenne are coming! (photo: Aleksandar S Mastilo)
November 6th, 2020 1:26 pm| by Helen Jones
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It’s a story that might sound too close for comfort. A man isolates himself from the outside world, hiding inside his own four-walls, while reality outside falls apart.

In our own way, we have all “experienced” that isolation recently, says Tanja Mastilo. But her latest play, ‘The Cheyenne are Leaving’, was never intended as a commentary on coronavirus.

Premiering at the Sorte Hest Theatre on November 13, ‘The Cheyenne are Leaving’ (Nov 13-Dec 5, Mon-Fri 20:00, Sat 17:00; Teatret ved Sorte Hest, Vesterbrogade 150; 205kr, concessions available; whynottheatre.dk) follows the story of Noel, who withdraws into his own home to hide from the horror of the outside world. 

Yet when a young man shows up on his doorstep and the authorities start to close in, Noel is forced to make a decision: to defy the authorities and stay, or to flee and leave behind all that he knows.

New meaning since the pandemic
‘The Cheyenne are Leaving’ has taken on new meaning during the Coronavirus Crisis, but it was originally conceived as an exploration of the many ways in which war and migration leave us changed. Mastilo was born in Sarajevo and speaks with the authority of profound personal experience. 

“When the end of the 20th century brought yet another bloody war on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, around 2.2 million people left their homes and migrated to other parts of the country, or Europe, USA, Australia … and I am one of them,” she told CPH POST.

Drawing on subject matter such as this, the play promises to be an intimate exploration of the true meaning of home: one that speaks to modern times and across an international audience. 

The stability of our reality, of our home, is “difficult to truly understand”, Mastilo contends. “Perhaps you only understand it once you lose it”.

But in the light of the stage at ‘The Cheyenne are Leaving’, perhaps we’ll catch a glimpse of that understanding.