Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Talking to Terrorists: Visiting Play

Contemporary American Culture is well aware of its connection with terrorism, a new looming figure in the scatterplot of our national identity. What seems to be lacking in the typical far-away reports of insurgent groups and supporters of Bin Laden is evidence, anecdotal or statistical, of what terrorism really is: What creates it, what enables it, what it feels like to be attacked, and how individuals are forever embroiled in it.

The No Fog West Theater company has come to Salt Lake to perform Talking To Terrorists. It is a hard-hitting, crucial, and thought-provoking piece comprised of interview monologues from terrorists, terrorized, and the people who daily come in contact with terrorism. The play has no plot, and thus a tremendous potential to be tedious, but director Max Hershenow and his cast weave complex characters together by interspersing relevant monologues with each-other, creating disparities and dialogues from real people's experiences. Coupled with subtle musical transitions and slights of hand that break the barrier between audience and performer, this documentary theatre piece compels and captivates in ways impossible to recreate in a normal film documentary. There is only a slight hint of a conclusion, but it sits well with the viewer, who leaves both saddened by the weight of individual suffering yet inspired by the perseverance and caring humans are capable of delivering. There seems to be a theme of 'accident of birth,' where characters note that they could have easily been their bitter enemy under different circumstances.

The play, written by Robin Soans, is cutting and clever, a difficult piece to perform. The actors are young, as is their company, and so I was highly impressed at how flawlessly they performed the material. The company was founded in the last 2 years and focuses on bringing thought-provoking stories to the Western United States with an intention to spark dialouge. As such a discussion is held after each show.

I highly recommend taking the time this weekend and checking out a performance. The play runs the 6th, 7th, and 9th at 8:00 pm in the Rose Wagner Black Box Theater. Tickets are available at the door or through ArtTix for ~$10.

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