Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday: plug, production

Rick Park gave us a nice plug in the latest Boston ActorNews:

Hey gang!
Went to see the latest Sugan show, "Talking With Terrorists". Very
thought provoking stuff here and some really wonderful performances.
Dafydd Rees is terrific at getting to the darkplaces in ordinary men
and Dale Place brings a delightful wryness to his role of the
psychologist. Eve Kagan is mesmerizing to watch--I literally couldn't
take my eyes off her whenever she was onstage-- and Geralyn Horton
was so wonderfully natural in all her roles. The subject matter may
be dark but this really is a show you should all see.

A high school student in Oregon is going to mount a production of my "Heaven & Hades" -- rehearsals start next week!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Thursday, LFPC '05 and discussion night at "Talking.."

I got a request to tell another playwright about my experience at the Last Frontier Playwrights Conference in Valdez, Alaska last year.
Here's some stuff I wrote about it at the time.
My friend who had gone before me gave me advice: don't go if you have to pay a lot. Many people get assistance from schools or the state or.... I got free registration because I was hired as an actor, some financial help as a playwright-- you have to ask, and its first come first served-- somebody donated their fly-free miles-- and I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor for free. Everything was interesting, people were intelligent, talented, and helpful: but nothing uniquely valuable, at least not in terms of raising the profile of my work. My web site rather than networking or submission is still the main source of attention to my plays-- and that attention comes almost exclusively from non-theatre young people who don't yet understand how to access "canonical" or "cutting edge" scripts through the established channels of experts, agents, promotion, and publication.

After an exhausting two weeks of the Last Frontier Playwrights
Conference in Valdez, Alaska, I returned home to take over my daughter's Pet Care
business while she was on vacation--- so I'm catching up on sleep. My
"The 11:08 Brighton: the Oldest Established Permanant Rolling Cast
Party" went very well in Valdez, and I've now finished minor tweakings
of the script based on the feedback I got at the reading. What a high
it is to have work greeted with enthusiasm! I'm forming a theory that
praise is directly proportional to the distance you have to travel from
home to garner it.

Backstage did a write-up on the LFPC. The part that made my day goes
"....... many attendees commented that the caliber of the writing was
uniformly higher than in previous years. Among the standout works were
Mary Roseanne Katzke's "Dancing for the Hunter," Atar Hadari's "The
Lonesome Death of Janis Joplin," Geralyn Horton's "The 11:08 Brighton
From London/Victoria," Jennifer Williams' "Edge,".......... ."
The entire article:
Playwright Jason Grote has written up the conference on his blog. His comments are extensive enough that I don't feel I have to write it up myself. You can read Jason at:
A diary-like account of our Alaska adventures was recorded by Dan Trujillo on his blog:
Dan gallantly and generously drove me and PP member Jonathan Myers and Meron Langner of NYC (but earlier of B.U.) from Anchorage to Valdez and back again, an all-day excursion each way, and he has recorded our progress -- with pictures-- in his blog entries dated June 17th-30th. Sean Bennet was at one point rumored to be the 4th passenger, but he flew in instead I believe-- anyway, he was on site when I arrived, and already checking out his actors for "Fall-Out"!

I took notes at all the LFTC panels and workshops with the experts that I attended, and I'd be happy to share these with whomever is
interested. That workshop I had the most fun in went note-less-- it was two 2 hour Movement classes, Spolin/Stills style, and I had such a blast! I used to teach these, but I hardly ever get to do them myself-- once you get to be an actor of a certain age, directors seem to assume you don't want or need a body/mind workout any more.

At the evening performance was My Most Important Critic -- my teen age grandson. I think he was impressed, both by the production and by the respectful reception the actors got from the handful of people whoo stayed for the talkback. On the way home he allowed that it was probably more difficult to "make it" as an actor than as a rock musician-- actors have to perform other people's material, and they have to wait for somebody else to choose the material and then choose them to perform it-- and they don't have records to sell; when the show's over, it's all over-- for them.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday -- back to play

A nice mention by Rick Park in his latest Boston ActorNews:
"Hey gang!
Went to see the latest Sugan show, "Talking With Terrorists". Very
thought provoking stuff here and some really wonderful performances.
Dafydd Rees is terrific at getting to the darkplaces in ordinary men
and Dale Place brings a delightful wryness to his role of the
psychologist. Eve Kagan is mesmerizing to watch--I literally couldn't
take my eyes off her whenever she was onstage-- and Geralyn Horton
was so wonderfully natural in all her roles. The subject matter may
be dark but this really is a show you should all see."

E mail, a blog entry, and a new Minute Mouth off monologue this morning.
Got outside in the afternoon for dog walking and for some leaf removal to let our dear little crocus blooms turn their eager faces to today's warm sunshine. Sixty degrees! Spring! Hooray! Pumped up my bicycle tires and rode around the block a couple of times to test it. A little wd40 and I'll be ready to roll.

Rosanna called to say that the Newton Library does want a performance of Martha Mitchell, tentatively set for the 14th of May. Hooray for that, too. We have another, earlier, gig at a private party, but the Library will be a chance for friends and potential bookers and perhaps even press to see it. The hope is to generate something resembling a Tour for the old girl.

For my daily dose of energizing outrage, I choose Dr. Peter Rost in the Huffington Post, A recently fired VP at Big Pharma calling for a roll-back in our hell-in-a-handbasket devolution towards kleptocracy. Sign me up, Pete for President!

Rode in with Lau, no brush-up rehearsal this week so naturally at one point I opened my mouth and the wrong line came out. I did a quick metal re-write in order to get back on track and give Daffid the cues he needs, and I think only the stage manager and Daffid noticed that the text was slightly askew.

Very small very quiet audience. No laughs. We figured they hated us, but afterwards about half of them hung around to tell us we and the show were wonderful-- so I guess You Never Can Tell.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesday -- horrible, most horrible...

Went to the dentist, where he pried off my loose crown and discovered that as we feared the root of my molar is cracked and the tooth irrepairable. I'm in mourning. It isn't just the vivid reminder of my own mortality -- a partial plate would seriously interfere with singing and articulation, and implants cost 1/3 of my year's Social Security income.

OTOH, a small glimpse of a modest immortality: this email from South Africa

Dear Ms Horton
The last time I contacted you, I warned you that the "bad penny" will return. As in the past I would appreciate it so much if you could grant the National Drama Library in Bloemfontein South Africa, permission to download, copy and make copies of your plays available to members of our Library.
We always indicate copyright and performing rights regarding the plays we copy. We also include your e-mail address and obviously make no changes in your texts.
This time I would appreciate permission to make copies of the following of your plays:
Happy hour
Heaven and Hades
What kind of a life is that?

I am awaiting your reply in anticipation
Best wishes
National Drama Library
South Africa

Monday, March 27, 2006

Monday Off-- it's catch up

Blog, laundry, groceries, clean cat box.... a big day for little things.

Here's me as Mo Mowlam and Lau Lapides as Marjorie from the student paper at Bentley, where Lau teaches. I forgot that between the matinee Sunday and going home I went out for coffee with Lau and Judith Pratt, a playwright and fellow member of ICWP who lives in Ithica, NY. She's in town. Lau is the director of Judith's ten minute play that will be in the Dragonfly festival in Boston next month, besides being part of the wonderful cast of "Talking To Terrorists" I'm performing with at Sugan. Judith came to the show, and afterwards we plotted how to supply what the world clearly needs now even though it doesn't know it--- more theatres devoted to new plays by women!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Sunday --"Talking To.." run is half over

Up at what for a performer is the crack of dawn for choir rehearsal at FUSN. No coffee before the service, we were banished from the kitchen by a Sunday school class... I'm really drooping and grumpy. I know "artistes" are supposed to be able to cope with burning the midnight oil, but the fact is I always have a raging headache any time I don't get 8 hours sleep. Trying hard to be if not spiritually uplifting, at least polite. The service: "Happy Birthday Buddha". Kids did a birthday ritual-- poured tea over baby Buddah, got a carnation. Junior choir sang "Let Music Surround You", we grown-ups sang Clausen's "Set me As a Seal" a capella, beautifully, and even the Purcell "Bell Anthem" went well-- considering that we never actually got through it in rehearsal before we ran out of time and had to give way to the Juniors..... There was a triumphant march down the aisle to rousing applause for organist/tenor Joe Muise, whose 10th anniversary with the church is celebrated, this was the Sunday for Memorial candles, which is sweetly sad but long. I began to think I wouldn't have time for a quick nap before I'm due at the theatre and cringing at the thought of performing with the Dread Headache still in force, but James must have checked his watch and trimmed his Sermon. We got Buddah Abridged, boiled down to 6 principles-- all of which I heartily endorse and try to live by. I got home in time for The Nap, enjoyed doing the matinee, would have collapsed quietly when I got home but my husband's family and friends were gathered to play a financial Real Estate game and eat Chinese Take-Out and I stayed up to watch The West Wing and chat a little and then just began checking my email and then somehow got sucked into reading the Huffington Psost and I was lost on the internet until the wee hours again....

More of "Talking To..."
There has been a flood of positive press for this play, more than I have ever seen for a Boston production-- Ed Siegel was moderate in his praise compared to most writers. The only negative review was from Nick Dussault in the subway giveaway The Metro, who said "The misguided message is disturbing and the haunting production will definitely stir up a plethora of emotions that many people really don't want to grapple with, especially at the theatre".
Some general sense of this may be the reason that despite the wide critical acclaim we are playing to small houses.
I've always thought that contrary to the Metro critic's opinion, grappling with with the overwhelming is precisely the purpose of theatre. Most people who have seen the production seem to agree that in the course of the play they grapple with fear and horror and anger-- but they come out with sorrow and hope.

Anyway, here's the theatre's mid-run PR release with an account of press reaction:
"superb... daring" – Boston Globe"stunning... haunting" – Boston Herald
"provocative" – WBUR

Remaining performances (thru Sat April 8)
This week: Wed & Thurs at 7.30, Friday at 8, Sat at 4 and 8, Sunday at 3.
Next week: Wed & Thurs at 7.30, Friday at 8, Sat at 4 and 8.
Talkback with cast after performance on Thursday March 30
For tickets call 617-933-8600 or go to

"Stark view of terrorists chills... the impact is both riveting and revolting, horrifying and hypnotic" – Terry Byrne, Boston Herald

"Sugan has done a superb job of assembling a cast of eight actors who fully animate the play's assortment of Western officials, Third World and European revolutionaries, and victims of terrorism" – Ed Siegel, Boston Globe

"guaranteed to generate dialogue about matters on which the American theater remains embarrassingly silent" – Bill Marx, WBUR

"riveting performances" – David Andrews, Standard-Times

"a much-needed piece of serious theatre" – Will Stackman, Aisle Say>

$40 Fri & Sat evening and Sun 3pm matinees
$35 Weekday (Wed & Thurs), and Sat 4pm matinees
Senior citizen, group, and student discounts available
$15 Student Rush available for all performances

More press reviews are linked from the Sugan web site.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturdays are special, but leave me too blah to blog...

Two shows today, at 4 and 8pm.
Maybe I'll be able to blog about that later.
Meanwhile, in the news: a USA home for Corrie, but not till next year:
Politically charged "Rachel Corrie" leads bold Rep lineup for 2006-07
Misha Berson -- Seattle Times
Seattle Repertory Theatre is now the first major U.S. regional theater to announce that it will produce "My Name Is Rachel Corrie."
The controversial play, a hit in London, will appear at the Rep (March 15-April 22, 2007) as part of the theater's boldly contemporary 2006-07 season........
Esbjornson says he read the play months ago, found "it very moving and well-done," and the New York flap did not affect his decision to produce it here.
"The fact that Rachel Corrie was from Olympia, and went to college at Evergreen, is a big part of why we want to do this," he noted. "This is about someone local, who could have been any of us. And it's about what happens when your passion and activism reaches the level that hers did."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Views, Reviews, and a Toothache

Woke up this morning-- late morning, of course, I'm keeping actor's hours-- and the front page story in the The Boston Globe is that Bush has once again spit in the face of congress and declared himself above the law. Why these cowards who were elected to serve us and swore to protect our constitution didn't start impeachment proceedings the first time Bush did this is beyond me. Have they no sense of shame? Forget party-- aren't they patriots? I am so outraged I can't even express it!

I'm sputtering with rage partly because I have an articulation crisis. A crucial molar has a loose crown and an abcess -- can't eat, can't have work on it done because I need to perform and can't have a numb mouth when I say lines.... My dentist squeezes me in and looks at it-- , yes, working on it now isn't practical. He gives me a prescription for pennicillan to cure then infection and schedules me for Tuedsday when we'll find out if the tooth can be saved. Oh, the pangs of mortality. I hope I'll be able to have a surface to ping out those British t's and d's. Meanwhile King George continues his usurpations......

By Charlie Savage
Globe Friday 24 March 2006

Washington - When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it "a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a "signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would "impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: "The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The Boston Phoenix is out with a review but I can't seem to locate it on line.

Will Stackman has a review on AisleSay

Here's the Herald's review of "Talking To Terrorists". I misssed it when it came out-- that was a very busy day. The friend I asked to watch for it and buy copies of the paper for me when it appeared in did so, but then eamiled me the on line version. I'll pick up the hard copies to send to my mother and brother when I go to church on Sunday.....

Stark view of ‘Terrorists’ chills
By Terry Byrne
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The stars of ‘‘Talking to Terrorists” include a convicted IRA bomber, the former leader of the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a former member of the Kurdish resistance in Turkey and a child soldier from Uganda. Each tells his or her story, not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but to put a face on acts of violence and examine extremes of human behavior.

The impact of Sugan Theatre Company’s production is both riveting and revolting, horrifying and hypnotic. Playwright Robin Soans’ interviewees include bitter victims, a former hostage, aid workers and politicians, but his point of view is clearly that of the terrorist. Director Carmel O’Reilly stages this documentary-style play with efficiency and economy, and though the performances of her eight-member ensemble are occasionally uneven, O’Reilly’s clarity and balance give the piece dramatic intensity.

Most haunting is Eve Kagan as a young woman telling her story of fighting in Uganda starting at age 8. Kagan’s steady gaze, focused accent and unadorned delivery make her survivor-terrorist stunning. She returns later as Nodira, a belly dancer from Tashkent who has hooked up with the British ambassador there. Their interview alternates between a humorous domestic scene and the ambassador’s harrowing account of whistle-blowing about intelligence extracted by torture, which led to his dismissal.

Soans tries to put his interviews in perspective by talking to a psychologist (Dale Place) about the motivations for radical behavior.

Although the set is understandably minimal, set designer J. Michael Griggs and lighting designer John Malinowski create some stunning effects. Malinowski lights Griggs’ set panels in a way that makes them look like a church’s stained glass windows or a crowded high-rise apartment building.

When the second act takes a left turn, Malinowski gathers an eclectic assortment of lamps upstage. The image of distinctly different shapes emanating light of various strength becomes a lovely metaphor for Soans’ effort to shed light with this play.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thursday, Talking Before & After "Talking To..."

Thursday was the day for Actors Talking. Before the performance we met with students from Emerson College who produce a TV show about theatre which is shown on both the school's in house system and the Boston Community Access-- Boston Neighborhood Network News, I think it's called. I used to watch this from time to time when I lived in Boston's Mission Hill. (There was a video version of me performing Martha Mitchell in 1990 that ran at odd hours for years on Boston local. I never saw it, but insomniac Bostonians used to tease me that I was a Boston Cable cult diva.) We each told about our characters and relationship to the show, and the interviewer and cameraman shot some scenes. All this will be edited down to maybe 3 to 5 minutes of air time, I suppose. After "Talking To..." there was the first audience talkback. The audience was small but wildly appreciative. A woman in the audience who had known Mo Mowlam (I play her in the opening scene) thanked me for bringing her back to life-- she's sorely missed by those who loved her. She said, "I knew who you were before you opened your mouth, and I was so glad to see you!" Several people thanked us collectively for the experience. They seemed to feel that they'd been given a lot to reflect on over time, but most of the questions were about the process, and each actor was asked to tell how they felt about the characters they portrayed -- especially the terrorists. The most fraught answers were of course the ones directed to the Jewish actors in the cast who play Muslims.

I'll continue about this Later: I have a toothache. I'm going to take a painkiller and go to bed.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Much more Corrie, another "Talking To" review

Comprehensive, well written and deeply disturbing article by Philip
Weiss about Rachel Corrie and the pressure to silence her POV as
expressed in the "My Name Is..." play in the current Nation.

"Few knew that Corrie had been a dedicated writer. "I decided to be
an artist and a writer," she had written in a journal, describing her
awakening, "and I didn't give a shit if I was mediocre and I didn't
give a shit if I starved to death and I didn't give a shit if my
whole damn high school turned and pointed and laughed in my face."
Corrie's family felt it most urgent to get her words out to the
world. The family posted several of her last e-mails on the ISM
website (and they were printed in full by the London Guardian). These
pieces were electrifying. They revealed a passionate and poetical
woman who had long been attracted to idealistic causes and had put
aside her work with the mentally ill and environmental causes in the
Pacific Northwest to take up a pressing concern, Palestinian human
rights. Thousands responded to the Corries, including a
representative of the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, London,
who asked if the theater could use Rachel's words in a production--
and, oh, are there more writings? Cindy Corrie could do little more
than sit and drink tea. She had family tell the Royal Court, Give us

Democracy Now today had an interview with Nicola and NYTW and also Royal Court's Viner re: the production which was originally scheduled to open today. It referenced the Nation article, and in at least 2 instances NYTW's people said Weiss had the facts wrong re: who was pressuring the theatre not to do the script.

review today:
Stark view of ‘Terrorists’ chills
By Terry Byrne Boston Herald
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The stars of ‘‘Talking to Terrorists” include a convicted IRA bomber, the former leader of the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a former member of the Kurdish resistance in Turkey and a child soldier from Uganda. Each tells his or her story, not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but to put a face on acts of violence and examine extremes of human behavior.

The impact of Sugan Theatre Company’s production is both riveting and revolting, horrifying and hypnotic. Playwright Robin Soans’ interviewees include bitter victims, a former hostage, aid workers and politicians, but his point of view is clearly that of the terrorist. Director Carmel O’Reilly stages this documentary-style play with efficiency and economy, and though the performances of her eight-member ensemble are occasionally uneven, O’Reilly’s clarity and balance give the piece dramatic intensity.

Most haunting is Eve Kagan as a young woman telling her story of fighting in Uganda starting at age 8. Kagan’s steady gaze, focused accent and unadorned delivery make her survivor-terrorist stunning. She returns later as Nodira, a belly dancer from Tashkent who has hooked up with the British ambassador there. Their interview alternates between a humorous domestic scene and the ambassador’s harrowing account of whistle-blowing about intelligence extracted by torture, which led to his dismissal.

Soans tries to put his interviews in perspective by talking to a psychologist (Dale Place) about the motivations for radical behavior.

Although the set is understandably minimal, set designer J. Michael Griggs and lighting designer John Malinowski create some stunning effects. Malinowski lights Griggs’ set panels in a way that makes them look like a church’s stained glass windows or a crowded high-rise apartment building.

When the second act takes a left turn, Malinowski gathers an eclectic assortment of lamps upstage. The image of distinctly different shapes emanating light of various strength becomes a lovely metaphor for Soans’ effort to shed light with this play.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Big One Weighs In On "Terrorists"

Somehow I didn't expect this review in the Big Paper to come out on a Tuesday. I went for a Ladies Lunch with my oldest friend in Brookline. She and her husband have been living in Vermont for the last 4 years-- during which time I saw her only once. We caught up with family gossip, and compared our recent musical experiences in our current choirs. Jeanne and I were in the Arlington Street Church choir and its associated Light Opera Group -- mostly Gilbert & Sullivan, with the occasional opera or Broadway musical -- for 25 years. When the Opera Group dissolved we went separate ways, I to the West Newton UU church and she to Brookline's. I knew that the review was out and I meant to buy some extra copies of the paper and give one to Jeanne so that she could read about "Terrorists", but we were so tangled in nostalgia we lost track of the time and I forgot to go to the newstand. Maybe she'll read it here:

The Boston Globe
Sugan's play probes roots of terrorism

By Ed Siegel, Globe Staff | March 21, 2006

Talking to terrorists is the last thing many Americans want to do, or want their leaders and media to indulge in. At the same time, aren't we obligated to know what drives human beings to become monsters? Mustn't we find ways to end cycles of violence wherever possible?

It's the proverbial dirty job, and the someone who had to do it was British playwright Robin Soans, together with the Out of Joint and Royal Court theaters in England.

Soans and Out of Joint director Max Stafford-Clark, who was chiefly responsible for the great ''Macbeth" in Holyoke last year, interviewed terrorists about why they did what they did. They also talked with some terrorist victims.

The daring Sugan Theatre Company decided to bring ''Talking to Terrorists," the play that resulted, to America, where it's making its US premiere at the Boston Center for the Arts. Sugan has done a superb job of assembling a cast of eight actors who fully animate the play's assortment of Western officials, Third World and European revolutionaries, and victims of terrorism.

If the result has the same failings of most documentary theater -- theater that relies on transcriptions of interviews -- it's mostly the fault of the genre, not the production.

The best part is the ensemble. Director Carmel O'Reilly's cast ranges from youthful actors loaded with potential (Eve Kagan and Mason Sand) to accomplished veterans such as Geralyn Horton. Dafydd Rees (''Gagarin Way") fully inhabits characters as diverse as Terry Waite, the Anglican envoy held for more then four years in Lebanon, and ''Brighton Bomber" Patrick Magee, who killed five people and injured 34 others at a Conservative Party conference in England. (Ideally, there should be more color in the cast, and more personality to J. Michael Griggs's set.)

''Talking to Terrorists" introduces us to people and places Americans would just as soon not know about, such as China Keitetsi, a Ugandan girl (Kagan) who survived as a guerrilla fighter by hacking off the limbs of government soldiers and submitting sexually to rebel leaders.

But hearing more than 2 1/2 hours of the horrors that led people to become terrorists and the atrocities they committed afterward does not have the emotional resonance one might think.

As in ''The Exonerated," about innocent people wrongly convicted of murder, and ''The Laramie Project," about the killing of Matthew Shepard, the testimony begins to sound like a litany of woes, rather than a drama shaped by artistry, ambiguity, and insight.

At some point, it also begins to sound like a lecture. Capital punishment is bad. Homophobia is bad. Poverty is bad. Violence begets violence. Terrorists are ordinary people driven to ultra-violence.

Soans peppers his material with conservative voices -- Norman Tebbit, for example, a member of Parliament whose wife was permanently disabled by the Brighton bomb -- but the message seems to be coming mostly from the anti-Bush-and-Blair political pole.

The problem isn't the message, but its repetitiveness and the constant scene-shifting. Documentary theater that works -- David Hare's ''Via Dolorosa" and Anna Deavere Smith's ''Twilight: Los Angeles" -- tend to have a narrower focus than ''Talking to Terrorists."

Fortunately, the Sugan troupe makes the material interesting and instructive even if it isn't dramatic and emotionally involving. Given the larger society's lack of will to talk about the issues associated with terrorism, ''Talking to Terrorists" is a dialogue worth pursuing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Four Shows Down, Seventeen to Go

First day off after the opening weekend of "Talking to Terrorists" and I caught up on back email, wrote a minute monologue, and began to blog again. I thought rehearsals for the show would make interesting blog material-- but though the Sugan rehearsal process itself was wonderful, the people and conditions ( I except the drafty dirty leaking roofed rehearsal hall, but at least it is a real rehearsal hall, and a commodious one at that!) close to ideal, it didn't make for "material". Frankly, I was too busy absorbing and memorizing to have leisure for recording and commenting as well. What leftover time and energy I had went into keeping up email correspondance re: my Stagepage web site and play scripts. Suffice it to say that the 3-4 weeks of rehearsal was a fascinating and rewarding period.

The first reviews of the show are up on the Mirror: Beverly Creasey's review and Will Stackman's Quicktake

I intend to brag about it

On Mar 20, 2006, at 9:57 AM, W. J. wrote:

Dear Ms. Horton,
My name is W- J-, and I am an ESL teacher in Texas. I am currently teaching an advanced Listening/Speaking course, and am interested in using one-act plays to help my students practice their speaking skills. I found a wide variety of them on the internet, but thought yours were among the most interesting.I wonder if I could get permission from you to use the following one-act plays in our class this semester:

A Late Lunch
Autumn Leaves
Christmas at Grandma's
Heaven and Hades
Help Wanted
Skinny Teeth

If I have your permission, my students will work on the plays in small groups both in and out of class, and then perform them for their classmates and me in class in a few weeks. I look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.

Absolutely you have my permission!
And I intend to brag about it on my blog!

Summation of Rachell Corrie?

I discovered some sites that link to most of the controversy about the cancellation of the NYC production of the Royal Court's show. Jason Grote's blog for March 19th is informative, as is

and there's plenty on George Hunka's Superfluities site for March 18th and 20th

I eamiled a reply to an anti-Corrie post that said that "I can remember ONE recent pro-Israeli play "Golda's Balcony" with...
I have seen and certainly admire "Golda's Balcony". It is a very brave drama. Like "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" it is a documentary one woman play based on verbatim interviews and the writings of the character portrayed-- a heroically courageous sensitive intelligent moral woman. The script was put together by a very good writer who is also a sensitive intelligent moral person. But "Golda" is only pro-Israel if you consider that the character's central moral decision in the play-- to destroy all life on earth in a nuclear holocaust rather than risk the destruction of Israel as a Jewish homeland-- is right. I was appalled and shaken by it. I confess, more by the approval and applause of audiences who heard the words and saw the action I did but felt that because Golda's decision did not at that moment set off WWIII-- the US responded with a bail-out-- she was justified . I wept uncontrollably, and had nightmares for weeks afterwards. For me, William Gibson's "Golda" script is a tragedy that prophesies the end of everything that matters-- not just our brief human experiment with the possibility of love and kindness and wisdom, but possibly all but the simplest single-cell life on earth . Two implacable forces are arrayed in self-righteousness: one side has enough nuclear weapons to destroy civilization, the other is vastly more numerous and soon will have similar weaponry. It's only a matter of time. I may be fortunate enough to die before it happens, but human nature being what it is in even the best of people, happen it will.

"My Name Is.." gives a brief glimpse of hope, a tiny foolish candle of altruistic nonviolence in the darkness. And well-intentioned people want to extinguish it.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Birthday, Choir Concert, Matinee of "Talking"

So much on my plate today-- my cup runneth over. I planned to collapse as soon as I got home after the sunday matinee, have started the day with choir rehearsal at 8:30 am after about 5 1/2 hours sleep. However, my husband took me out to dinner to celebrate my rounding off another year, so I postponed the collapse until after that. I collapsed in front of the TV, actually, and sat there like a lump from The West Wing through Crossing Jordan, when I was at last sleepy enough for my buzzing mind to allow my exhausted body to crawl into bed.
I'll get around to writing about all the excitement later, and append it to this.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Two Shows on Saturday

Small house for the Matinee, some nerves in the 8pm, which was Press Opening. No more to say, at least for now-- but it is a peak experience, believe me.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rachel Corrie and Talking To Terrorists

It's opening night for "Talking To Terrorists", and I'm still adding my 2 cents to the on-line discussions about Rachel Corrie:

I have read "My Name Is Rachel Corrie", and admire it. I was shocked to hear of its cancellation. I think theatre exists to engage us on this level.
In explanation of my personal interest in the controversy, my friend Eliza Wyatt wrote "Flowers of Red" based on the Corrie material. It won a a "Best Play" award at the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe, and when she brought the show to the Playwrights Theatre in Boston I tried to be helpful-- I did the costumes for it. It was quite moving, and respectfully reviewed by the Globe. The minor reviewers stayed away-- I have no idea why-- and so did audiences. The question is, is this a subject nobody wants to think about? Feelings too painful to allow? Is it just too disturbing? I'm an actor, and I open tonight in the American premiere of a brilliant and harrowing play, Robin Soans' "Talking To Terrorists", which was an award-winning hit in London last year. Here's an article about the play and this production from the Boston Globe:

The terrorist next door
Robin Soans's play finds the normal in the extreme
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff | March 17, 2006

There was a moment when she was reading Robin Soans's script for ''Talking to Terrorists" that Carmel O'Reilly found herself almost unconsciously nodding in recognition.

It was the line in which a British Army colonel remarks that had he grown up in Crossmaglen, a village hotbed of the Irish Republican Army, ''I would have been a terrorist."

O'Reilly, artistic director at the Sugan Theatre Company, grew up in a small village in County Fermanagh, a rural corner of Northern Ireland, and Catholic boys she knew joined the IRA after they'd been beaten or humiliated by British soldiers in the early 1970s. She became a teacher in a technical school, and one night she was stopped by masked men who had mounted a checkpoint. But the masked men weren't men, they were boys -- Protestant teenagers who had joined a loyalist paramilitary group to battle the IRA -- and she recognized their voices behind the masks. They let her go.

The next day in school, she and the boys behind the masks greeted one another as if nothing had happened.

Now O'Reilly is directing Sugan's production of ''Talking to Terrorists," which makes its US premiere tonight at the Boston Center for the Arts. Drawing on interviews with those who have committed, witnessed, or been victims of terrorism, the play suggests that terrorists are not psychopaths but often shockingly normal -- extremists made by extreme situations.

O'Reilly doesn't have to be convinced that, given a particular set of circumstances and experiences, anyone can become a terrorist.

''I've seen it," she says, ''with my own eyes."

Real voices
It was last July, a few days after 52 people were killed when four suicide bombers blew themselves up on London's Underground trains and a double-decker bus. The Royal Court, the Sloane Square theater where ''Talking to Terrorists" had opened a week before the bombings, was half-empty. Who wanted to talk to terrorists after this?

''It was dreadful," Soans recalls by phone from his London home. Soans was heartsick, not just over the suffering borne by fellow Londoners but over the knee-jerk reactions he'd heard in the immediate aftermath.

''The serious discussion I had hoped might be held just didn't happen," he says.

But because of that tragedy, Britain's own 9/11, his play became even more relevant, Soans says. He holds a Chekhovian view that theater doesn't have to answer questions so much as pose them more precisely.

''It's important for theater to raise issues that are not being raised in the public arena," he says. ''Why do people become terrorists? It's not being talked about."

Soans and Max Stafford-Clark, who commissioned and directed the play, believe that when it comes to some subjects, the truth is far more compelling than fiction. Soans conducted about 30 interviews in Germany, in Ireland, and all over the United Kingdom, trying to figure out what makes a terrorist a terrorist.

While the characters are not named in the script, they will be recognizable to some. They include Mo Mowlam, the British secretary of state to Northern Ireland who used her unconventional, sometimes salty personality to bring the warring sides to the negotiating table; Patrick Magee, the IRA man who planted the bomb in a hotel in Brighton, England, that killed five people and nearly killed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; Terry Waite, the Anglican envoy who was kidnapped and held for four years by Islamic extremists in Lebanon; Craig Murray, the British ambassador to Uzbekistan who opposed using intelligence about Islamic radicals that had been obtained under torture; China Keitetsi, a child soldier with the National Resistance Army of Uganda; and Jihad Jaara, former head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade.

The play consists of interwoven narratives. While the characters are from different countries and were involved in different conflicts, the themes are universal. The IRA man says he picked up a gun because he saw no alternative. The Palestinian character says his first memory was of an Israeli soldier kicking him when he was 5, then profanely insulting his mother after she took umbrage. Personal quirks make the characters' statements more than dry testimonies. The British ambassador whose conscience won't let him countenance torture leaves his wife to take up with an Uzbek belly dancer. The character based on Mo Mowlam laments the loss of her Cabinet post because the driver who came with it allowed her and her husband to get drunk and not worry about driving.

During his research, a psychologist told Soans that from a psychological point of view, there is little difference between a terrorist and an ordinary person. The main difference, Soans says, is that terrorists are emotionally ''blocked."

Keitetsi, he says, is a perfect example. She joined a rebel army at the age of 8 and was supervising torture by the time she was 13. In one of the more poignant moments of the play, her character describes how her father beat her as a child, ''my stepmother moving the chairs back so he could beat me more easily."

''She left home, a child of 8, to survive," Soans says. ''And her survival depended on her ability to block, to shut out emotion."

And so she submitted to rape at the hands of older soldiers. She and her peers enthusiastically murdered friends who tried to desert, using their severed heads as footballs.

A search for understanding
Soans worried that some people would see his play as an apologia for terrorists. It isn't, he insists, and he realized the importance of including victims' voices as well as terrorists'. He says the characters based on interviews with Norman Tebbit, the former British Cabinet secretary, and his wife Margaret, who was left in a wheelchair by the Brighton bombing, were added during the writing to amplify the victim's perspective that Terry Waite provided.

''We tried to understand terrorism. That is not condoning it," he says. ''Innocent people get hurt. All the more reason to try and understand what would make someone do this."

Peter O'Reilly, Carmel O'Reilly's husband and the Sugan's managing director, says the play is stretching the company's mission of presenting contemporary Irish work, because the conflict in Northern Ireland is only one of a half-dozen referenced. But he says he and his wife read the play, were intrigued by it, and were surprised that they beat others to the US rights.

''There's very little debate about this in America," he says. ''Larger companies would not touch something like this, for all different reasons. But we think it's an important play, and somebody should do it."

The Sugan Theatre Company presents "Talking to Terrorists" March 17 through April 8 at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Plaza Theatre. 617-933-8600, .

The pre-show publicity has been very good, but advance sale is not. Several of my friends have said that they will not be seeing the play-- they just aren't prepared to deal with the subject "now".
If not now, when?
If not us, who?

Don't know how long this link will be 'live', but it is a pre-show story that appeared in Metro West newspaper

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Article With Quotes From (Us) Actors

Deconstructing demons
By Chris Bergeron/ Metro West Daily News Staff
Thursday, March 16, 2006 -

An IRA bomber and Ugandan child soldier reveal the dark secrets that drove them to violence. Fighters of the Al Asqa Martyr’s Brigade and Ulster Volunteer Force recall injustices that convinced them to seek revenge in God’s name.
A terrorists cell in Fallujah? A safe house in Dublin? A suicide mission in Lagos?
Terrorism has arrived in Boston.
As current as tomorrow’s headlines, this drama explodes on stage in the American premiere of "Talking to Terrorists" produced by the Sugan Theatre Company.
Written by Robin Soans and performed to critical acclaim last year in London, it opens tomorrow in the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts and runs through April 8.
Sugan Artistic Director Carmel O’Reilly said she wanted to stage Soans’ play because "it reflects what’s going on at this moment right now."
The theater critic for the prestigious English newspaper The Guardian called it "the most important new play we have seen this year."
A cast of eight area actors playing multiple roles gives voice and a recognizable humanity to actual terrorists who have become the bogeymen -- and women -- of modern times.
This play is not agitprop for random mayhem.
Former members of Catholic, Islamic, Kurdish, Protestant and Ugandan terrorist organizations share the stage with their victims and politicians, relief workers and clerics who try to understand them by restoring order and peace to a damaged world.
Although she had not seen it performed, O’Reilly was drawn to the idea that Soans "had spoken with real people" whose lives were touched by terrorism.
"These are all real stories. This is really happening," she said in a lightly accented brogue. "These stories are so topical. This production will provide a forum for people to listen to and discuss things affecting us all."
Soans’ script utilizes interviews of the exact words of ex-members of the IRA, National Resistance Army of Uganda, UVF, Kurdish Workers Party and the Islamic Al Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade.
Occupying the stage simultaneously, they speak matter-of-factly of brutalized childhoods and routine indignities inflicted in the name of an authority that is indifferent to their dreams.
A Kurd, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Protestant and an African teenage girl, they are drawn into secret organizations that promise to redress injustice. Instead, they kill and see comrades die. They are imprisoned and consider the consequences of their acts.
At one point, a Protestant bomber concedes regrets for the suffering he caused but adds, "Circumstances made our actions inevitable."
Founded 14 years ago by Carmel O’Reilly and her husband, Peter, Sugan Theatre is devoted to producing contemporary plays drawn for its Irish and Celtic cultural roots.
The group’s name derives from the Gaelic word for "straw rope," which suggests the idea of a "communal activity" binding performers and viewers together.
Born in Northern Ireland near Belfast, Carmel O’Reilly said Sugan "has a responsibility" for staging "Talking to Terrorists" because it addresses issues that have affected both her native and adopted homes.
"Theater belongs to everyone. Although (Sugan) is essentially Irish, we want to embrace the political and emotional issues that touch all humanity," she said.
Soans has written two other well-received documentary plays, "A State of Affairs" in 2000 and the highly acclaimed "The Arab Israeli Cookbook" in 2004.
In the Sugan production, eight actors, including Lau Lapides of Wellesley and Geralyn Horton of Newton, play the 20 roles based on actual people who belonged to terrorist groups or lived through the consequences of their actions.
O’Reilly expects the play to provoke debate but emphasized the script does not justify violence. Rather, she said, it explores the complex motivations of terrorists with different political and religious agendas.
"This play is not just about ’talking to terrorists.’ It’s about listening to the victims, relief workers and journalists who’ve lived through it. It provides a global perspective about individuals and their responsibilities," she said.
Lapides expects the play to generate controversy about the origins of terrorism but insists the script has "no political ax to grind."
A longtime Wellesley resident who also teaches speech and dramatic arts at two area colleges, she plays Rima, a journalist, and Phoebe, a relief worker.
Lapides said the chance to play multiple roles appealed to the professional "chameleon" in her.
Based on Soans’ script, she said the terrorists’ tormented backgrounds suggest "the idea we’re all really capable of anything."
Lapides acknowledges some people will prefer to demonize terrorists as irredeemably evil rather than consider their acts as responses to injustice.
"There will be a certain percentage (of viewers) who’ll be annoyed if not outraged. We sort of expect that to some degree," she said. "This play is important because it will give people in Boston a bird’s-eye view of peoples’ lives, not from a political, but a personal perspective."
Living 11 years in London, actor Gabriel Kuttner absorbed some of the anxieties that have become part of our post-9/11 lives.
The 31-year-old Boston resident plays an ex-member of the UVF imprisoned 15 years for a bombing and a British official who discovers suspected terrorists are being tortured for information.
Kuttner believes the play’s strength is its courageous willingness to suggest that terrorists choose violence in response to genuine grievances. "It wants to understand what makes a normal person want to blow up people for a cause. It’s a very provocative -- I hope not incendiary -- idea. I don’t know what the response will be," he said.
Born in Boston, Kuttner trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and married an English woman. Since 1993, he has acted in, produced or directed 40 plays in England and Europe.
Like other cast members, he maintains Soans’ play asks the essential question about terrorists’ motives without ignoring the bloody consequences of their actions.
"I don’t think you can condone violence, but you have to have a willingness to know where it comes from," Kuttner said. "Without empathy as a starting point, I don’t think any useful dialogue would happen."
As Ireland’s former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam, Newton actress Horton utters the play’s signature line: "Talking to terrorists is the only way to beat them."
After rehearsal, she described her fourth Sugan play as "astonishing" theater that has sometimes left her in tears. "I’m in awe. This is about as vivid as you could get. It’s touched everyone (in the cast) in some way. I can’t actually be in rehearsal without being moved," she said.
Lapides predicts the audience will share those intense feelings.
"All theater, and especially this play, provides a truly personal experience," she said. "The audience should strap themselves in for a roller coaster ride that’ll take them into the depths of the human soul. They’ll feel anger, joy, sorrow, even humor and empathy. I know they will feel something."

A Flurry of Flattering Requests

You have my permission.
I'd love to hear how it goes!
Mar 16, 2006
I am teaching English to French people in France. I would like to use one or more of your plays as a reading exercise in English.
Regards........David K.

Mar 15, 2006, Claudia B wrote:

Hi, I’m requesting the opportunity to read one of your short (10 minute) plays. As a member of the CDC club of Toastmasters, I'm at the stage now where I need to perform a brief play for our club. (No money will be charged, no profit will be made, no finances are involved at all!)
I know that I'd need your permission to do so, and as a former theatre major (100 years ago, back in college in central Illinois) I will totally respect that!
I've had good fun browsing your site and was especially interested in Autumn Leaves I or II and Beyond Measure.
Thanks for your help with all this~~and my best to you.
Ok, you have my permission.
If you are a hit be sure to mention the author and her website!
If, not, not.
Break a leg.

March 15
I'm C. P. of O. high school. I've previously emailed you, and haven't gotten a reply, yet. I wondered if you have tried to reply. I am currently in a play direction class, and I would like your permission to do a directing analysis on your one act "Heaven and Hades", and to further inquire because I'm deciding what one act I will direct and produce in later spring. If you already have replied feel free to do so again. Thank you.

You have my permission to print out and analyze my play "Heaven and Hades".
It is sometimes confusing to have the address from which a request is sent ask for a return to a different email address-- but I can't find any message from you in my record-keeping mailbox. A student did ask permission to perform/direct "H&H" last month, but it was a different student name and a college rather than a high school production that I sent permission to then.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Reproductive rights Under Siege

South Dakota's ban on abortion, aimed at the heart of Roe v Wade, is in the news. I sent an email to the tapped blog:

Yes, the entire range of feelings on the subject of abortion should be aired and shared and taken into consideration in the political debates. Yes, abortion-- and childbearing-- is a life and death matter that deserves serious scrupulous attention. It's a matter that has a weight in women's lives similar to the weight that service in the military has traditionally had in men's. For that reason it is a matter on which men ought to be primarily listeners rather than leaders, and one for which the art of drama rather than that of debate is best suited. That's why when under the Reagan administration a woman's right to consider alternatives and act in accordance with her conscience was being attacked I wrote a documentary play, "Under Siege". It's based on interviews with counselors and patients in an abortion clinic threatened by violence and picketed by sincere and passionate people who condemned what they were doing as murder. It's a pretty good play. When I had a workshop production of it, women laughed and wept and came back to see it multiple times. It went on to development at Sundance and has been produced in South Africa and translated into Russian. But that's as far as it got: the play has never had a production in the US. The script is on my web site, here, and hundreds of student actresses have used pro or anti monologues from it in classes and contests. But theaters-- I'm especially disappointed by the lack of interest from universities, where women students are now the majority-- apparently do not believe that audiences ought to hear a whole range of women's feelings about abortion in a context that addresses the political and moral significance of choice. (The original title of the play was "Choices".)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

plays, politics, life & death

Pinter on plays, politics, life & death

including a reference to the Rachel Corrie flap.
The reaction on the theatre lists I follow is very scary. I haven't seen the play, but I've read the script of My Name Is Rachel Corrie. The play is adapted from the young woman's writings: diary, letters, emails..... she was an idealistic American peace worker sympathetic to ordinary Palestinians. What this young woman had to say, her testimony, which seems mild and well meaning to me, is too controversial to be heard by New Yorkers? I'm about to perform in the American premiere of Robin Soans' TALKING TO TERRORISTS. What kind of reception is Soams' play going to get in Boston, if Rachel Corrie is too tough for NYC? ? Soans' play lets terrorists tell their own stories, from their own POV. Not just one "situation" either, but several deep and terrible pairs of opposites. Nevertheless, I'm proud and glad to be part of it. Nothing human is alien.

After several of us posted the Guardian' s account of the London theatre's shock at NYTW's cancellation, we were asked: "Do we really need news of New York theatres filtered through British papers?"

I think we do. The Guardian has the best-- most extensive-- theatre coverage of any paper in the English speaking world, and since it is free on line why would anyone interested in Dramaturgy neglect to read it? I certainly "need" it, and am very grateful for the opportunity to read how American theatre looks to knowledgeable Londoners. I note that 2 American plays have been reviewed recently: "The Exonerated" got 4 stars, "Shadow Box" 2.

March 14, 2006

Harold Pinter, newly honoured with the Europe Theatre prize, takes the stage in Turin to speak to Michael Billington
"I've written 29 damn plays. Isn't that enough?'
Tuesday March 14, 2006
The Guardian

MB: Can I take you back over the last extraordinary year. You've won the Wilfred Owen prize, the Franz Kafka prize, the Nobel prize for literature, now the Europe Theatre prize. Has all that public recognition helped to sustain you through a difficult period physically?

HP: Well I've been through a number of gruelling experiences some of them quite gruesomely funny in a way. I attended a rather exhilarating festival of my work given by the Dublin Gate Theatre last October for my 75th birthday. I was leaving Dublin the next day and, as I was getting out of the car at the airport, I slipped and gashed my head on the stone slab of the concrete pavement. My wife, who is also here, turned and found me covered in blood. I spent four hours in hospital that night in a pretty terrible state, got back to England the next morning, started to recover and woke up two days later to discover that I'd been given the Nobel prize for literature! So my life over the past year has, quite literally, had its ups and downs.

Article continues
MB: What effect did the Nobel prize have on your life?

HP: Well for a start it was a great surprise. Quite unexpected. A chap phoned me at about twenty to twelve from Stockholm and said "Good morning, is that Harold Pinter?" and I said "Yes." He said, "I'm glad to tell you you've won the Nobel prize for literature." I said, "Have I really?" He said, "Yes." I said, "Thank you." The next step really was that I was asked to write and deliver the annual Nobel lecture. I then found myself in hospital again. I had a very, very mysterious skin condition which emanated from the Brazilian jungle. I should explain I've never set foot in the Brazilian jungle but I shared this very distressing physical condition with the Brazilian Indians. Anyway, I came through that and was writing the Nobel speech when the phone rang and it was the doctor saying that he'd looked at my blood tests. He said, "You must come into hospital immediately." I said what do you mean by "Immediately?" He said, "Now, within the next five minutes."

I'd actually just finished the speech so it took me about 10 minutes to get to the hospital. Shortly after I arrived I found myself in intensive care and found it extremely difficult to breathe. There were lots of doctors around and my extremely anxious wife. I then realised, for the only time in my life actually, that I was on the point of death. Because if you can't breathe, that's it. And I'd never been aware before of any such extremity. But I didn't die, the doctors got me through it and here I am today.

MB: Thankfully [loud applause]. I don't want to morbidly dwell on this but at that moment of realising death may be imminent, what happens, what goes through one's head?

HP: Well there's no time to think. You don't think at all. You just experience it. What you do, in my case, is that you fight and fight to stay alive. You try and insist upon breathing. You insist on not losing the ability to breathe. And I just managed it by the skin of my teeth.

MB: Having written the Nobel lecture, you then had to deliver it. How difficult an experience was that?

HP: Well I was in a wheelchair. I was taken from the hospital to the studio, did the speech and then went straight back to the hospital. But it was OK. I'm quite used to speaking my own text ... My main concern when I was making that speech, and even writing that speech, was not to be at all emotional.

MB: Coming on to the content of the lecture itself, it seemed to me to say that, while there is no definitive truth in art, we have an obligation to examine the truth of our lives and our society. In that sense, is Iraq a watershed? Because of all the documentary evidence, because of Guantanamo, because of Abu Ghraib, people around the world have woken up to reality?

HP: There does seem more public awareness now of what we're actually responsible for, what actions our countries have taken: what it means, what destruction actually is, what torture actually is. It so happens that I've been very preoccupied with this for many years. Things like Abu Ghraib and even Guantanamo are not new things: there are many precedents. As I pointed out in my lecture, American foreign policy has adhered rigidly over the last 50 years or more to one concern and one concern only: "What is in our interests?" ... There are many, many Americans who are as disgusted and ashamed and angry about this as I am. And I received a lot of letters from Americans after I made my speech, many of them couched in terms of some despair. But, coming back to your question, I find that in attacking American abuses of power I have in the past sustained a good deal of mockery. Been called at the very least an idiot. But we all know what's looking us in the face now. I believe we've been faced with that for many years.

MB: But that's a key point. Because one of the pivotal moments in the lecture is when you repeatedly say of American intervention in the internal affairs of other countries "It never happened" as if we had air-brushed certain events out of our consciousness. But you can't say that with Iraq, can you? The evidence is with us daily. There is a heightened awareness of the lies and deceptions.

HP: Quite so. And, of course, what cannot be ignored now is that most people are well aware that, in the case of Abu Ghraib for example, those acts of torture were hardly random events. They weren't one bad apple, as it were. They came from the very top. We're looking at the White House. We're looking at the Pentagon. We're looking at Number 10 Downing Street by the way. Who we're looking at here I'm not quite sure. But I've got a funny feeling a few people in this audience will have a few things to say about that. It's where you live that leaves the greatest impression on you. I certainly feel a strong sense of shame at the actions of our own government. I'm talking about the British government. I think that Blair's subservience to Bush is shameful and disgusting. It's also more than that. It's a disinclination even to accept the fact that if you go and drop bombs on thousands of people in a sovereign state - whatever you think of that state - it is not only an act of mass murder. These are war crimes.

MB: In Britain, it [the Nobel speech] was shown live on a satellite channel, reported in full in the Guardian. But it was, as far as I know, pretty much passed over by BBC television. Did that surprise you?

HP: It wasn't passed over. It was totally ignored by the BBC. It never happened. There are those who argue that the BBC's ignoring the speech was to do with its complicity with government. I don't believe that. That's a conspiracy theory which I don't subscribe to.

MB: So what is the answer?

HP: I don't know. You'd have to ask the BBC.

MB: Given your views on politics in Britain and Blair's subservience to Bush, I just wonder if there is any figure in British political life whom you respect.

HP: There was one man in the Labour government, Robin Cook, whom I had a very high regard for. He had the courage to speak out and to resign over Iraq. He was an admirable man. But resignation over a matter of principle is not a very fashionable thing in our society.

MB: Can I turn to the other half of your Nobel lecture where you talk about the process of writing. You spoke about the way a play is engendered by a line, a word or an image. Also about the way characters resist you and take on a life of their own. But is there not also a conscious part of you that is organising the action and the characters?

HP: I'm not aware of my consciousness working in that way at an early stage of writing. After it's got to a certain point, I then work very hard on the text, quite consciously. In other words, I just don't live in my unconscious the whole damn time. I keep an eye on it. But one of the most exciting things about being a writer is finding the life in different characters whom you don't know at all. To a certain extent, you've got to let them live their own life. But there's also a conflict constantly going on between you as the writer and them as the characters. Who's in charge? There's no easy answer to that. I suppose, finally, the author is in charge. Because, whether the character likes it or not, all I've got to do is take out my pen and do that (a gesture of erasure) and he's lost a line. It may be one of his favourite lines of dialogue [laughter]. But I've got the pen in my hand.

MB: Take a very concrete example, Ruth in The Homecoming. She obviously has a will and a life of her own. But did you know, from the start, where she was heading? That is, towards an ambivalent authority over her inherited household?

HP: I really didn't know what was going to happen: where she, or the play, was going. I don't know how many people here know it but the second scene shows the elder brother, Teddy, bringing his wife home from America to meet his family in London. As I found these two figures in the room, I had no idea what was going to happen to either of them. Gradually the play grew and dictated itself partly through her actions: Ruth's sexual strength and authority just seemed to grow in stature in a strange way as the play went on. This may sound rubbish but I simply couldn't get out of her way. She started to dominate the play in a way I hadn't expected. She was unavoidable and is one of my favourite characters actually.

MB: Is the process the same for overtly political plays like One For The Road, Mountain Language or Party Time?

HP: It can't be exactly the same, no. It's rather difficult to define. But in Party Time you have a lot of well dressed people enjoying a fashionable, champagne-filled party while outside there are roadblocks and helicopters. I knew from a much earlier stage that the people at the party - or at least some of them - were responsible for what was happening in the street. So I had a certain kind of knowledge which I didn't possess in writing The Homecoming. It's a very layered activity, writing plays, and it's never the same experience twice.

MB: Political theatre obviously takes many different forms. Do you admire writers who adopt a very different approach from your own, such as Brecht?

HP: Yes Brecht was very important to me to read and I greatly admire his poetry. But, coming back to the present day, I have a great deal of respect for the work of David Hare: Stuff Happens, The Permanent Way and so forth. He writes very clear, sharp plays that analyse what is going on. I admire his rigour, his honesty and his insistence on looking for the truth.

MB: At the moment in Britain there is a great hunger for verbatim theatre. Is that a movement you support?

HP: Absolutely. It has produced a lot of good work at the Tricycle and the Royal Court, though I'm alarmed at what has happened to My Name Is Rachel Corrie in New York [the play recently co-edited from Corrie's diaries and letters by Alan Rickman and Guardian features editor Katharine Viner] ... The real fact there, as you know, is that Rachel Corrie was a young American woman who was looking at the Palestinian situation in Israel when one of the bulldozers that was demolishing Palestinian houses ran over and killed her ...

But that play has now been withdrawn by the producing theatre in New York and that is, I think, typical of what is happening more and more in Britain and America: suppression of dissent and the truth. I'd just point to the example of the prohibition of protest within a certain area outside the Houses of Parliament. One woman walked into this zone and read out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq of whom at that time there were about 80. She was arrested, fined and now has a criminal record. What she was actually doing, in reading the names of the British dead outside the Houses of Parliament, was reminding people in Parliament of their ultimate responsibility. So the lid was put on her straight away.

MB: What about your own position at the moment ... is the itch to put pen to paper still there?

HP: Yes. It's just a question of what the form is ... I've been writing poetry since my youth and I'm sure I'll keep on writing it till I conk out. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I've written 29 damn plays. Isn't that enough?

MB: Finally, we're celebrating the Europe Theatre prize. In the age of infinite electronic possibility, do you still have a positive faith in what theatre can do?

HP: The mere fact of audience and actors sharing that specific moment in time, the intensity of the life that passes between the stage and the auditorium, means there's nothing quite like it. So yes I still have a faith, a shaky faith, in the act of theatre.

On the same day as the New York Theatre Workshop put out an statement on its web site
about the cancellation-- or postponement........
Regarding My Name is Rachel Corrie
March 14, 2006
I have heard from many of you in the past few weeks about the Workshop’s decision to request a postponement in producing My Name is Rachel Corrie.
This moving, first-person play was given to us because of our reputation for presenting difficult subjects in a thoughtful manner. And rightfully so--a first reading inspired our collective commitment—which we still hold to—to sharing Rachel’s voice. In the weeks that followed, we carried out our routine pre-production research that includes exploring the social, political, and cultural issues raised by the play. This is our standard operating procedure.. (continued to the site) .....

Tech Week for "Talking"

Out of the rehearsal hall and into the theatre. The theatre is in the Boston Center for the Arts, part of the complex around the historic Cyclorama building that was built to hold a vast painted panarama of the Battle of Gettysberg after the Civil War. It’s a familiar space in the basement: I volunteered labor to help the Theatre Company of Boston turn the space into a theatre years ago, when I came to Boston as a recent graduate of the University of Colorado. How many? At least 30, possibly more— I must look up the date some time. The South End, which was derelict and dangerous in those days area is bright and attractively bohemian now. A brand new theatre complex has been built into a luxury condo block next door to the old Cyclorama exhibition/dance space that houses 2 of the 3 orignal “Off Broadway” theatres that have been host to most of the interesting small theatre productions in Boston for the last 30 years. The main 150 seat BCA theatre has gone through a number of names— it was the Erlich and the New African for a while-- and it is currently called the Plaza. I have no idea why-- who ever heard of a basement Plaza?-- and I can’t get used to calling it that.

The call was for two, and Lau picked me up at noon. We made good time and had almost 40 minutes to scout out the (difficult) parking situation. We lucked into a metered space right in front of the theatre— but we have to feed that meter 8 quarters every two hours. Today is mostly tech cues, and — no surprise— it took an hour just to set the first 5 minutes of the play. The set promises to be beautiful. There's a picture of it on Sugan's web site here. After my first scene I’m not on again until the end of the first act, so I brought along my laptop I spent the next 3 hours writing up 3 monologues from notes I had made earlier. That, and Sunday’s cat monologue adapted from the wonderful lunchtime storytelling of She-Who-May-Prefer-To-Go-Nameless, is the first writing I’ve done since going into rehearsal for “Talking to Terrorists”. That’s not unexpected: creating roles takes concentration. But I’ve also missed a number of deadlines for sending my scripts to contests and development opportunities— which doesn’t require concentration, just energy and optimism. February to mid-March is a hard time for me to be optimistic, even when I don't feel from the daily news that the world is headed for hell in a handbasket. In winter I seem to need all my energy just for basic survival. It’s all I can do not to crawl back into bed qand pull the covers over my head when I wake up to yet one more gray and brown and damply chilly day.

At 5pm we break for dinner and I go with most of the cast to the near by Garden of Eden restaurant, where I order the house salad— about the only thing I can order, while remainiong both low carb and low budget. The salad is delicious, but even with vinegrette and three tiny crumbs of blue cheese a cup or so of baby lettuce can’t add up to more tha 200 calories. With tax and tip it comes to ten dollars, and I can’t help mentally calculating what my daily food intake would cost at this rate: $90! Which is about what I spend on groceries for two of us every couple of weeks.... Guess I won’t be taking part in the bonding ritual repast very often. One of the young actors with a healthy young man’s appetite did manage to spend what I spend in a week on this single meal. My tightwad impulses remind me of all the scrounging and making do I’ve done in order to be involved in shoestring productions. I came to this production prepared to do the same , but at Sugan now there are professionals supplying props and costumes and wigs and odd pieces of furniture. Still, this is a modest production compared to the overblown one I just saw at the Huntington. I’d guess the set alone for that one cost more than many smaller theatres spend on their entire season.

The lighting design is complex because “Terrorists” is not a naturalistic play. The characters are seldom in a specific place interacting with each other. Mostly they are responing to a silent invisible interviewer or to several of them== the audience becomes scene partners for us, the actors. What we do, basically, is tell our stories. Characters who are on stage at the same time may be in the same place and time, or in completely different ones. They may or may not be able to hear what oher characters are saying when they are in the same literal theate space, but they may also be in a metaphoric space that includes several different times and spaces. The lighting changes wiith every entrance and exit. In some sections it changes with every speech. Light clarifies places and relationships for the audience, and I see now that it may clarify them for the actors, too. Frequent questions in rehearsal were: can I hear what that other character is saying? Should I let it affect me? Notice or respond? Sometimes the director said “yes”, sometimes “no”— and sometimes “we’ll work that out as we go on... try it different ways, and we’ll see.” Now the light will in a sense determine what is seen and suggest what is heard, and final choices will be made.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Poetry and Music vs Lyrics and...

A bit of quibbling on Musicalmakers
someone said of the Shakespeare words for "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple"from KISS ME KATE that it is not a poem at all - it's a speech from TAMING OF THE SHREW."

My 2 cents:
I'd say it's a poem. Shakespeare's a poet. Romeo and Juliet "meet cute" with a sonnet. Lots of poets in his day wrote poems that they expected would be turned into songs. There was no copyright law, so a musician could make a song out of any poem he liked. The old poems in anthologies--, many of them have associated tunes, and were as likely to be sung as recited. People didn't use to read silently, the way we do now. They read aloud, and so the pressure to make sense on first hearing was as strong as it is for theatre lyrics-- but it's always ok to have implications that don't emerge until repeated hearings.
There's a huge Shakespeare songbook with 400 years worth of settings of his poems-- some of verses used as songs in the plays, some sonnet settings, some settings of blank verse or even prose-- like "What a Piece of Work", from HAIR.
Choir and chorus music is usually psalms, prayers, and poems.
I have the feeling that there's a whole range of musical theatre that we've forgotten-- melodramas and ballad operas and the like-- in which the musical structure was made up of songs that began as poem-settings and were then sprinkled into a plot.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Question about "The Dead"

A college theatre director asked about "James Joyce's The Dead" as adapted by Richard Nelson. I had seen it, and said that admired it enough to wish that I could be in a production of it, playing one of the aunts. The friends I saw it with were annoyed because they couldn't follow the relationships in the play: the production had been designed for a 3/4 thrust and then re-created in larger proscenium theatre, and much of it was played with backs to the audience and was consequently inaudible. I had the good fortune to have read the script beforehand-- wasn't it published in American Theatre?-- together with at least a vague but positive memory of the Joyce story.

I think it could be an excellent community theatre piece. Good parts for old experienced character actors who can sing. But it seems to me that it would suffer in a college production.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sally Cragin Interviews Robin Soans

Súgán brings Talking to Terrorists to America


3/9/2006 Boston Phoenix

Robin SoansTalking to Terrorists is a provocative title for a play. What’s more, that’s exactly what Robin Soans did to research his two-act documentary drama. The play earned rave reviews in its 2005 London debut from Out of Joint Theatre Company and the Royal Court. Starting next Friday, Boston’s Súgán Theatre Company offers the American premiere.

Soans condensed hundreds of hours of interviews, many of which he conducted himself, into an unusual theatrical collage. Former members of various outlaw groups including the IRA, Uganda’s National Resistance Army, and the Palestinian Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade tell their stories, which include graphic anecdotes and surprising psychological revelations.

Súgán will field eight actors, each playing three to five characters that range from terrorists to victims to diplomats to ambassadors. “It’s ‘verbatim theater,’ ” explains director Carmel O’Reilly. “The script covers Africa, Iraq, Northern Ireland, and the Palestinian situation. These are the voices that are not heard.”

But Soans, who is also an actor and the author of an earlier play on a similar topic called The Arab-Israeli Cookbook , was listening. He was able to make contact with terrorists living in the West through Scilla Elworthy, a Nobel-nominated trustee for the international organization Peace Direct. He began paying visits to the world’s least-loved criminals.

“I want to know who they are and where they came from,” he explains over the phone from London. “The first real thing we discovered is just how young people are when they become involved. The syndromes that are forming their opinions happen at a very impressionable period of their life. I suppose I’m saying, if I had grown up in the same set of circumstances, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have ended up doing the same thing myself.”

Rather than romanticizing his renegades, Soans “began to see patterns” in their stories. Still, early drafts showed that “the play was a bit one-sided, and the terrorists I talked to appeared rather heroic.” In the second act of the final version, he creates from transcripts a dynamic dialogue between a victim of the 1984 Brighton hotel bombing on one side of the stage and the bomber on the other. “You have to realize they fight for an idea — but that idea requires that others have their lives mangled.”

Soans admits that he edits for “maximum theatrical effect” and that he’s discarded plenty of graphic and disturbing scenes that didn’t necessarily advance the narrative. “My chief aim is to give voice to people who don’t have a voice in the theater. But my interest is purely humanitarian. I’m simply interested in the human condition — anything that helps us understand the human condition better.”

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Going To School In England!

On Feb 22, 2006, S W wrote:

I am a teacher at an FE college in Manchester. I am very interested in using some of your work as resources for delivering a level one certificate unit on the BTec in Performing Arts course.
The plays I am interested in are:
Skinny Teeth
Unbinding Time
I have four young female students who will be presenting a short showcase of work towards the end of the year as part of their assessment. The material will be performed at college in front of a small audience.
I would very much like to use writing that is new and accessible for this level of drama work and yours looks just the ticket. Thank you for making your material so easy to access, there isn't much around for young women to explore!
I hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you
S W, South Trafford college

Geralyn Horton wrote:

I don't understand your first paragraph-- different education jargon on this side of the pond. However, you have my permission to use my plays-- if you make them look good and spread my good reputation I'll be grateful.
Do check the titles, though. The 1st is correct, but
the other two.....

On Mar 8, S W wrote:

Dear Geralyn,
Huge apologies for messing about with the titles, I should have written them down.
I'm interested in Skinny Teeth, The Thingjimmy and Unbinding Our Lives and perhapes more. Your synopsis for each play looks so interesting, I'm spoilt for choice.
Is there something I have to do to access the materialon-line?
Many thanks for your patience.

March 8 reply
You should be able to download them and print them out-- or people can read them on line.
If you ever get to the sell tickets and do a public performance stage, do get back to me.
If you have a problem downloading, I can email copies to you--
Though I don't seem to have a .doc version of Skinnyteeth. I write with Appleworks, my raw files are .cwk, but I can make a .doc version for you tomorrow if you email me that you need one.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ruling Passion rules!

On Mar 7, 2006, W T wrote:

Dear Mrs. Horton,

My name is W-- T--. I'm currently a senior in high school at D- High School in Denver, Colorado. We have a drama club that is sponsoring what is called "Senior One Acts," where, if you are a senior and dedicated to theatre, you're given the chance to direct a one act play.
Theatre has been a large part of my life ever since seventh grade. I directed my first skit when I was 11, and since then have directed six other short plays and five short films. I realized this year that I wanted to choose a satirical comedy for my senior one act. I began reading your play, "Ruling Passion" and I immediately knew this was the one I wanted. It was exactly the kind of humor I was looking for.
May I, along with the help of other dedicated thespians, produce and direct "Ruling Passion?"

yes, yes, yes!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Sunday Service

Sunday, yesterday, a day off from rehearsals. Besides morning worship service there was an afternoon Memorial Service for a member in his early fifties who died of cancer-- a much loved member, a professor at a nearby university and a leader of the church youth group, whose sons are a little older than my oldest grandsons. My daughter and I and my that grandson went. This was closer to a funeral that the standard Memorial, which more usually takes place some weeks after the death-- this was a matter of days, and feelings were raw or numb. Our church was full to overflowing. This congregation is good at this communal grieving and celebrating-- surprisingly, since Unitarianism has no comforting doctrine of an Afterlife. My daughter and grandson Alex knew the family, the kids sometimes played together, but I really didn't know him. The family spoke or read poems, and a friend or two told what his friendship meant to them, and a student and a fellow teacher described how he inspired them. Music he loved was played, and favorite hymns sung. I came away with such a sense of the preciousness of life, and the living presence of love that outlasts death. I hope my grandson did too. I felt thankful to those who shared with me and the rest of us who had not had the privilege what it means to be part of the life of a good and brave and loving person.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

a 75 year old retired lover of plays

Mar 5, 2006, Mike wrote:

I am a 75 year old retired lover of plays. I winter in Florida at a retirement Campground and summer in Virginia where I partake in our Play Reading club in our community.
I wish to promote this enjoyment of the ARTS at our winter resort by doing a very short (10 minute) skit, ie playread to our neighbors at our clubhouse.
I therefore ask permission to do so. The plays I may be interested are:

May I get the scripts, (and how do I do this?) and may we read the script to our senior campers at our RV Park?

Dear Mike,
Of course you may.
Break a leg!
Those scripts, and dozens of others, are "published" on my web site.
You can print them out and perform them.
If you decide to make a real show of it and sell tickets, get back to me-- you'll need an email contract. But for in club enjoyment, be my guest.
When and if you do need an official contract, I can email one.
Just in case you can't browse your way to the scripts, I'm sending them via email as attached .doc or .pdf

Saturday, March 04, 2006

More on Corrie and Censorship

Many of the people who are flinging opinions about have not read a word of either the play adapted from her diaries, letters, and emails or the originals of Corrie's writings which are available on line. There are web pages. I read some of them while helping out with the production of Eliza Wyatt's FLOWERS OF RED, which is a fictionalization of the last days of Corrie's life.

Here's a recent Guardian piece written by a co-writer of the My Name Is play. As you will read, the production planned for nytw has been offered a theatre in the West End, and will open there at about the same time as it was intended to play in NYC:

Katherine Viner is a British journalist who collaborated with Alan Rickman
on an adaptation of Rachel Corrie's letters and journal entries "My Name is
Rachel Corrie," a production of which was just "indefinitely postponed" by
New York Theatre Workshop.

Surely Americans will not put up with this censorship

The decision by a New York theatre to cave in to pressure over our play
shows how the scope for free debate has narrowed

Katharine Viner
Wednesday March 1, 2006


The flights for cast and crew had been booked; the production schedule

delivered; the press announcement drafted and approved; tickets advertised
on the internet. The Royal Court production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie,
the play I co-edited with Alan Rickman, was transferring next month to the
New York Theatre Workshop, home of the groundbreaking musical Rent,
following two sellout runs in London and several awards.

We always thought that it was a piece of work that needed to be seen in

the US. Created from the journals and emails of American activist Rachel
Corrie,telling of her journey from her adolescent life in Seattle,
Washington, to her death under a bulldozer in Gaza at the age of 23, we
considered it, in a sense, to be an American story, which would have a
particular relevance for audiences in Rachel's home country. After all, she
had made her journey to the Middle East in order "to meet the people who
are on the receiving end of our [American] tax dollars", and she was a
killed by a US-made bulldozer.

But last week the New York Theatre Workshop cancelled the production - or,
in their words, "postponed it indefinitely". The political climate, we were
told, had changed dramatically since the play was booked. As James Nicola,
the theatre's artistic director, said yesterday: "In our pre-production
planning and our talking around and listening in our communities in New
York, what we heard was that after Ariel Sharon's illness and the election
of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, we had a very edgy situation."
Rachel was to be censored for political reasons.

It makes you wonder. If a young, middle-class, scrupulously fair-minded, and
dead, American woman, whose superb writing about her job as a mental health
worker, ex-boyfriends, troublesome parents, struggle to find out who she
wanted to be, and how she found that by travelling to Gaza and discovering
the shocking conditions under which the Palestinians live - if a voice like
this cannot be heard on a New York stage, what hope is there for anyone
else? The non-American, the non-white, the non-dead, the oppressed?

Anyone who sees the play, or reads it, realises that this is no piece of
alienating agitprop. One night in London, a group of American students came
to a performance and mobbed us afterwards, thrilled that they had seen
themselves on stage, and who they might, in a different life, have become.
Another night, an Israeli couple, members of the rightwing Likud party, on
holiday in Britain, were similarly impressed. "The play wasn't against
Israel, it was against violence," they told Cindy Corrie, Rachel's mother. I
was particularly touched by a young Jewish New Yorker, from an Orthodox
family, who said that he had been nervous about coming to see My Name Is
Rachel Corrie, because he had been told that both she and it were viciously
anti-Israel. But he had been powerfully moved by Rachel's words and realised
that he had, to his alarm, been dangerously misled.

But the director of the New York theatre told the New York Times yesterda
that it wasn't the people who actually saw the play he was concerned about.
"I don't think we were worried about the audience," he said. "I think we
were more worried that those who had never encountered her writing, never
encountered the piece, would be using this as an opportunity to position
their arguments." Since when did theatre come to be about those who don't go
to see it? If the play itself, as Mr Nicola clearly concedes, is not the
problem, then isn't the answer to get people in to watch it, rather than
exercising prior censorship? With freedom of speech now at the top of the
international agenda, and George Clooney's outstanding Good Night, and Good
Luck reminding us of the dangers of not standing up to witch-hunts,
Americans should not be denied the right to hear Rachel Corrie's words -
words that only two weeks ago were deemed acceptable.

I'd heard from American friends that life for dissenters had been getting
worse - wiretapping scandals, arrests for wearing anti-war T-shirts, Muslim
professors denied visas. But it's hard to tell from afar how bad things
really are. Here was personal proof that the political climate is continuing
to shift disturbingly, narrowing the scope of free debate and artistic
expression. What was acceptable a matter of weeks ago is not acceptable now.
The New York theatre's claim that the arrangement was tentative is absurd:
the truth is that its management has caved in to political pressure, and
the reputation of the arts in New York is the poorer for it.

It is surely underestimating the curiosity and robustness of the American
public, many of whom would no doubt be interested in an insight into the
reality of occupation that led to the Hamas victory. Artistic communities
need to resist the censorship of voices that go against the grain of George
Bush's America, rather than following the Fox News agenda and gagging them
before they have even been heard.

Call To Action re: Corrie Cancellation


Hello all,
Thank you for being so patient with lack of communication over the last few
days. As you can imagine, things were happening fast and furiously and we
needed a little time to sort out details before we could let you know
concretely what was going on. But now, finally—it's time to get concrete
and to start moving fast!

The "Rachel's Words" initiative has several components; world-wide actions
on March 16th and a New York performance event on March 22nd. We have been
invited to host a reading of Rachel's Words at the Made in Palestine Art
Exhibition in New York, date to be determined. There are more components in
the works—this is continuing to snowball!

Please endorse this initiative, and join this
coalition. It’s not meant to replace any plans that
groups may already have for March 16th or individual
responses to the cancellation of the play (expressing
feelings to the NYTW, writing op-eds, etc.) but to
support them. In fact, we are hoping that a unified
action, world-wide, and with press coverage will
ensure that Rachel’s words are heard more widely than
ever and, through her words, her message of human
rights and justice will be heard as well. If you
already have an event planned for March 16, perhaps
reading from Rachel’s e-mails can be incorporated into
or before/after your event.

• We are in direct contact with Cindy and Craig Corrie
(Rachel’s parents) and are proceeding with their
support and permission on all aspects of this
• We have sent a proposal to the Royal Court Theatre
in London about the rights to the show. We will update
you when we receive their response.
• We are approaching progressive theatre groups like
THAW (Theaters Against War), with the hopes of
developing contacts in the New York theatre community
who can help pull this off.
• We have spoken to people from multiple groups and
media outlets to get an initial feel about this
action/event. People are enthused.

We are all outraged by what has happened. But we have
the opportunity to harness our energy toward a very
positive end. We are setting up a “Rachel’s Words”
listserve and website to help facilitate joint
communication. We will send regular updates as to
which groups and individuals are signing onto this
joint coalition and progress in the action/event.
Please let us know if you want to be a part of this
coordinated response.

Friday, March 03, 2006

In the Midst of Rehearsals and asking...

Friends-- Do any of you have old lamps hanging around?
I'd really appreciate the loan or gift of them. The Sugan Theatre is doing TALKING TO TERRORISTS at the BCA, and the set designer wants banks of lamps-- all sorts, tall and small-- in the background (symbols of "Enlightened" civilization....????) Actors and friends have been asked to scour basements and attics for lamps to lend or give to the production. I'll lug them back and forth.

This is also a "heads up" about this production, which opens March 17th. I feel that it is really important, addressing difficult things that are currently in the headlines but on a broad canvas, "sub specie", as it were. The script, by Robin Soams, is constructed from verbatim interviews with people whose lives were shaped (warped?) by terrorism-- victims, terrorists, analysts, relief workers, politicians, soldiers... from several different parts of the world. The play won multiple prizes when at the Royal Court in London last year, and this Boston production is its American premiere. The cast and director are wonderful-- I am so proud to be part of it! Though I think the play is deeply humane as well as challenging, it is possible that it will be controversial and that some people will be so offended by it that they will try to shut it down: perhaps even threaten the BCA theatre or the cast and crew. I hope that people from FUSN will see it, and make up their own minds-- and see it early, before whatever hullabaloo erupts and people feel they have to "takes sides".

The Súgán Theatre Company is pleased to announce that the final production of its 2005-06 theatre season will be the American premiere of Talking to Terrorists by Robin Soans, to be directed by Carmel O’Reilly. The production will run from Friday, March 17 through Saturday, April 8 in the Plaza Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street, Boston, Mass. Talking to Terrorists will be available for press viewing beginning Saturday, March 18 at 8pm.

Can you imagine anything that mattered so much you'd blow up a pub full of people? Strap explosives to your body? Hold a petrified child at gunpoint? Until we understand how ordinary people can do these things we won't stop them. Talking to Terrorists is for anyone who has ever wanted to ask why.

“I looked round the room, and I thought, I'm the only person in this room that hasn't killed anyone.”

“I realised that if I had been born in Crossmaglen or South Armagh, I would have been a terrorist. And that's an understanding every soldier should have.”

To find out what makes ordinary people do extreme things, playwright Robin Soans, and the director and actors of the original Out of Joint / Royal Court production interviewed those from around the world who have been affected by or involved in terrorism. Regarded as the most important new play of 2005 by many of London’s critics, this play recounts the experiences of peacemakers, journalists, hostages and those who crossed the line.

Playwright Robin Soans has written two previous documentary plays, A State Affair (2000), also written for Out of Joint, and the highly acclaimed The Arab Israeli Cookbook (2004).

Director Carmel O'Reilly is Artistic Director of the Súgán Theatre Company. She has received two Elliot Norton awards for outstanding direction -- the 2001 award for Bailegangaire, and the 2002 award for This Lime Tree Bower and The Lonesome West. Plays she has also directed for The Súgán include the award winning St Nicholas and The Sanctuary Lamp.

The production will feature Geralyn Horton, Eve Kagan, Gabriel Kuttner, Lau Lapides, Mario Mariani, Dale Place, Dafydd Rees, and Mason Sand. Designers include J. Michael Griggs (scenic), John Malinowski (lights), Rachel Shufelt (costumes) and Nathan Leigh (sound),

About the Súgán Theatre Company
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Carmel O’Reilly, The Súgán Theatre Company, now entering its 14th season, is the only professional theater company in the greater Boston area dedicated to the production of contemporary plays that draw from the well of Irish and Celtic culture. Súgán productions have received multiple Elliot Norton and IRNE Awards as well as an Elliot Norton Special Citation in 1997 for “enriching Boston for five years with provocative productions of contemporary Irish and Celtic works". The Súgán is a Resident Theatre Company at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA). The Súgán is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, The Boston Cultural Council, Anglo-Irish Bank, IONA Technologies, Performix Technologies, and the Ireland Funds.

About the Boston Center for the Arts
Boston Center for the Arts is an urban cultural village, incubating and showcasing the performing and visual arts and artists of our time. Occupying a city block in Boston’s historic South End, the BCA provides a creative “home” for artists, a welcoming destination for audiences, and an arts connection for youth and community. For more information, visit

Tickets are priced $35-40 and are available from the Box Office (617) 933-8600 and may be charged to Amex, Visa or MasterCard. Senior citizen, group, and student discounts are also available. Tickets may also be purchased online at Student Rush tickets at $15 are available two hours before curtain.

For further information, please contact us at