National Geographic : 1983 Aug
On Assignment " HEY STARTED TO LAUGH" when 1 Gillian Gillison played back her taped struggles to understand the complicated gene alogy of the betrothed Kagopa, at left, and her groom. In a few days Kagopa and other brides would be secluded, as would pre-adolescent boys, and these Papua New Guinea highland ers would begin a marathon festival. Part of it was to be a series of ritual theater perfor mances by elaborately costumed players. One of them, Noru, with photographer David Gillison (right), was a resplendent sun with triangular rays and a leafy corona of rainbow. In two years' study the Gillisons saw por trayals of Gimi myths, old stories, and even household dramas and scandals. Gillian says that "those involved in the squabbles may be in the plays but never play their own parts." The audience usually knows the stories, and "the players don't have to create a cumber some set and dialogue as in our theater. They can get directly to the punch line." David adds, "When the play is a great success, the au dience says it is 'killed,' much as we might say we've been knocked dead or laid in the aisles." Gillian, an anthropologist with a doctorate from the City University of New York, will UAVIUblLLiuUN; HAIUAU RJ u tLMIUv\ttLUW) continue her work with the Gimis. David will photograph birds of paradise and help launch a joint venture of the provincial government, the Gimis, and the New York Zoological Soci ety. The Gimi area would become a wildlife sanctuary with a research station, while the villagers would be principal owners of a tourist lodge served by helicopter.