Another immigration detention center play

5 Mar

I just heard through NoPassport of Diane Lefer, who has also written a non-realist play set in an immigration detention center (my play on that theme, also non-realist but set in Australia, not the US is called Slow Falling Bird; hers is Termitary).

I’m interested in what I’m perceiving as a quiet groundswell of non-naturalistic and poetic approaches to writing politically engaged theatre, especially in a time when the loudest drums we hear are those of testimony and more journalistic approaches to the theatre. Another play I’ve encountered recently is Ken Prestininzi’s wonderful As American As (scroll down to find his play) which makes the landscape of terrorism and the rhetoric of Homeland Security truly unheimlich-–a US torture black site is “outsourced” to a mid-western family’s basement, and daily life goes on… not quite as usual.

I’m tired of the fetish of the verbatim, especially in the theater, and the notion that because someone said it, it’s true (brilliantly lampooned –and more–by Eliot Weinberger in his 2003 prose poem, What I Heard About Iraq. ) The most interesting thing about My Name is Rachel Corrie (and yes, I did go see it in NY) was that NYTW canceled its production, thereby igniting a public debate about censorship in the theatre, and the difficulties of presenting work that deals with a Palestinian point of view in the U.S..

All speech is shaped by context and all public speech is–in more than one sense—already framed. I AM interested in verbatim as a tool of art, not a fetish of authenticity—in the same way that I think art that uses found objects trails their materiality in with it.

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