Friday, June 21, 2013

A Fly on the Wall, June 21, 2013

The Power of the Pen
Or The Keyboard 
by Jim Murchison 

So last week I was speaking about how the power of writing and influence is still a dominant means of communication. For all the advances and changes that technology has brought us it is still those words and how we string them together that influence and shape society. I recently reviewed a couple of very different plays that illustrate how the art of writing for the theatre affects us. 

The first one was Nassim Soleimanpour’s remarkable performed letter White Rabbit Red Rabbit. A letter written in first person performed by a different actor every night to get a message about challenging our own obedience to authority, turned out to be an amazingly relevant story for those of us that believe we live in a free country. I purposely read nothing, did no research to see this play as I knew the actor was not allowed that privilege; the audience should go in no better informed and let the experience carry him where it may. Since then, I discovered that Soleimanpour is free to travel now and has actually been a participant in his own play.

“The play is so great. Why haven’t I finished mine, or why haven’t I started writing mine.”

Before anyone jumps up and down screaming about how the pressure put on the Iranian regime by having the play produced, made the fascists buckle and give the author a passport despite his refusal to do military service that isn’t the case it appears. He had a medical exemption from medical service because of a visual disorder. In other words because he was half-blind he wasn’t compelled to serve in the military. Not being required to serve, the passport ban was removed because he wasn’t conscientiously objecting any longer even though in spirit his view hadn’t changed. So did the play contribute to the decision to give Soleimanpour his passport? Maybe or maybe not, but what is most important is it got us thinking over here in our “safe” little society.

The other play I saw that had a big impact on the audience for the better was Rosa Laborde‘s play Like Wolves. Some may think that the subject matter of the play is less profound being set here and primarily about aging, the family dynamic and never letting go of your dreams. Rosa Laborde is a young vibrant writer that writes with such insight and wit that you just have a great time. What was amazing about the play’s effect on the audience was the amount of people that were saying, “The play is so great. Why haven’t I finished mine, or why haven’t I started writing mine.” If one sees something that is so good it makes you want to write something of your own; or paint or sculpt or just create something for the joy of doing it; that may be the biggest impact of all on a person or on society.

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