Tuesday, April 05, 2016

gruesome playground injuries | artistic director notes

This play? Why on earth?

Because Kenton and Pippa are in it. They staged it as their final apprentice project, they were terrific, and I figured more people needed to see them in it.

Because Rajiv Joseph intrigued me ever since read about his play Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo: “a tiger haunts the streets of Baghdad seeking the meaning of life, as Americans and Iraqis search for friendship, redemption and a toilet seat made of gold.” Especially when I read that Rajiv Joseph was a Christian who undertook a hunger strike on behalf of dalits and other minorities suffering ethnic violence in India. (I found out later, these are two completely different Rajiv Josephs. Oh well.)

Because that’s the best play title ever. Definitely the truest title: if you don’t like the title, you won’t like the play.

Because I really do love this play. Usually I go for story-driven scripts, rising action, this leads to that, reversals, all that dramaturgical stuff. This isn’t that. Still, it works for me: I’m drawn in, compelled, moved, fascinated.

And because, whether Rajiv Joseph is who I thought he was or not, and whether every viewer will see it this way or not, I find something spiritual in this play, something very close to the heart of my faith as a Christian. Two people who’ve been dealt really bad hands, two outsiders - dalits, victims of violence – the last, the least, the lost – who suffer and fail a lot, who fall pretty low and don’t even have bootstraps to pull themselves up by. Who somehow still manage to pull each other up. They’ve got pretty nearly nothing except a remarkable love for each other. And somehow that seems to be enough.

Maybe this play isn’t religious, or even spiritual - or maybe it’s gospel. I don’t know. Your mileage may vary, but I do know this: I find myself stirred in the same way I’m stirred by Easter, or friendship, or a small act of kindness or selflessness or sacrifice.

I also think it’s really funny. But maybe that’s just me.

No comments: