Taking it. Sep 21, 2013

by Zoe Scofield

I am writing this while also reading in horror about the current terrorist attacks at Westgate mall in Nairobi.  I’m literally stunned, and am alternately pouring over every photo I can find and keep turning my computer off in shocked sadness. Obviously I can’t really comprehend what is happening.  And then I remember the shootings less then a week ago at the Navy Yard that seem to have shuffled out of the news cycle.  And Syria. 

I can’t take it.


It seems like this would be the perfect time to shut down, shut off and choose not to acknowledge what is happening currently, and what has happened repeatedly in the world’s distant and recent history.  And that it would be okay, I could justify my choice to turn my attention away.  And that is just the thing, the incredibly privileged position I am in to make the choice to pay attention or not.  I don’t know what its like to not have the choice, and that is completely amazing and sobering to me.  Somehow this play, the current events, and Lane’s curator’s note in the program have brought that sobering reality to an undeniable clarity. 


“This past weekend in Portland at the T:BA Festival, a friend said this to me before seeing El ano en que naci, ‘I don’t know if I can handle hearing a bunch of stories about politics.’ As I watched the show, I kept thinking about the privilege someone feels to absolve his or her self from politics or intense circumstances.  As I laughed and eventually felt my chest tighten, I realized how what my friend said wasn’t even possible.”      Lane Czaplinski


I saw El ano en que naci last weekend at the TBA Festival and last night at On the Boards.  With each viewing I was immediately struck by several things. 


1.  How shamefully little I know about the Chilean dictatorship and what happened before, during and after that time period.  And why did I not know about this? How did I make it through school/life and not learn more about this other then a sort of general understanding that Pinochet did some seriously horrible shit?


2.  How recent this was.  I keep feeling this sense of the performers parents in the room, right next to their children on stage. Which made it all that more stark, immediate and continually chilling.  I noticed that I would unconsciously find a way to distance myself from the performers and what they were talking about, and then something would happen in the play that would calmly slap me back into the reality of why they were on stage in the first place. Why this was all even happening. 


3.  Necessary. And the right vehicle in which to convey this immediacy and necessity.  There is something about the deftness in which Lola Arias handled the subject matter and directed people telling their actual story that allowed me to ingest way more of the incredibly painful and almost unreal experiences then I would have otherwise.  I am in awe of the pure craft in which she created this entire project.  From the workshops in which found the performers, the mining of their stories and experiences, to her shaping it into a smart, complicated, unsentimental, funny and deeply moving piece. 


4.  Complicated. The complexity of the situation, how people are implicated or not, how people get involved or not and with what side/s, the schism between our desire to do what’s right and how that actually plays out. This play did an amazing job at distilling the complexity of this particular time period.   And being a template for how this same story, different players, different scene plays itself out over and over again. 


5.  Important. This play is important. I want it to be performed in schools, community centers, church bazars, wherever. Just give people the opportunity to see it.


So here is your opportunity to see it.