A mountain of bad, in fact deadly, ideas that Congress will eagerly support, and a handful of good proposals that no one will work for and Congress will strive to bury: the SOTU is SNAFU, ICYMI.
Obama’s hiring Romney campaign staff, pushing for a massive corporate trade deal with Europe as well as the Pacific nations, militarizing the Mexican border, and promising not to spend a dime before listing all the good things he’ll spend it on. He’ll defend human rights in Egypt (but not mention billions of dollars’ worth of weapons he’ll give the Egyptian government). “Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness,” he said. Readiness for what, Mr. President?
“We have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts,” Obama lied about his drone kill program, and Congress cheered. He said he’d end the war on Afghanistan, and they cheered. They sat silently through the next few sentences as he promised NOT to end that war, and then they picked up the cheering again. He hyped the military as a jobs program. He committed to cutting Medicare. Cheers, cheers, cheers.
“We produce more oil at home,” he bragged. “We produce more natural gas than ever.” We need “a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on.” Inspiring!
I recently read the script of a new play by Karen Malpede called “Extreme Whether.” The title picks up on the crisis of global warming and the choice it presents to our species. The play will be performed in New York as part of a Festival of Conscience along with Malpede’s brilliant antiwar play “Another Life.”
“Extreme Whether” is a riff on the story of James Hansen, the NASA scientist who has been trying to tell Congress that the environment is collapsing since 1988. Malpede invents a family story for a character like Hansen. At least in reading (much different from watching) the story at first seems insufficiently tragic. But as the play advances, so does its vision of the damage being done. Yet the closer the play gets to communicating the apocalypse that may be to come, the more it appears to have fallen short, although it is of course the play itself that is waking one up to the horror. Some things defy description even as they’re told to you. In the end, the play is sufficiently tragic, but it presents an image of people as irrational, hedonistic, and therefore hopeless — an image we should be constantly correcting if possible, except that it, too, seems pretty accurate.
The real Hansen will be speaking at the Festival of Conscience, as will I. See the schedule below.
First, this Sunday is a day to rally in Washington, D.C., for serious action on climate change. Be there. And make sure anyone who’s not on board with this movement watches a performance of “Extreme Whether.”
And that evening, help mark 10 Years of D.C. Poets Against the War.
Ann B. Knox, read a poem called “This Moment” in front of the White House on February 12, 2003:
We meet in this wind-harsh square
with some expectation,
some hope our presence will count,
our voices be heard.
We speak from what we know
and we know no poem
stirs from a closed mind.
Has the mailed fist
so closed on its own purpose
we speak to stone?
Pay attention, our words matter,
these bare trees matter,
the Potomac flowing black
under white ice matters,
kids, woods, a leashed dog,
All our lives converge
on this moment
and what follows tonight,
tomorrow, next week
will change our whole
“Sudden, harsh, arbitrary cuts would jeopardize our military readiness,” he said.
Readiness for what, Mr. President?
Written by KAREN MALPEDE
Performances Thursday – Sunday, March 28 – April 21
Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00pm
Sunday at 3:00pm
starring George Bartenieff with Abbas Noori Abbood, Christen Gifford, Abraham Makany, Alex Tavis & Di Zhu.
Another Life is a surreal romp through the post-9/11 decade; an out-sized mogul (George Bartenieff) controls, cashes-in, and is undone in the only American play about the U.S. torture program. Another Life has been excerpted in The Kenyon Review, given a staged reading at the National Theater of Kosovo, was a centerpiece of the Art of Justice: 9/11 Performance Project at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, and was further acclaimed during a workshop run at the Irondale Center last March. The play, written in a fast-paced lyric language, is based on research, interviews, testimonies, the words of torturers and tortured, and has been widely praised by experts in the field of human rights, for its inventiveness, power and ability to create empathy. George Bartenieff gives a tour de force performance as the Cheneyesque mogul Handel. Christin Clifford is his wife Tess and Abbas Noori Abood his prisoner Abdul. Di Zhu is his wounded physician daughter who becomes a whistle-blower; Alex Tavis a disgraced F.B.I. officer becomes head of Handel’s private contracting interrogation business. Abraham Makany is Geoff, Lucia’s fiancé who died in the Twin Towers, and retains the innocence of a previous age. With lighting by Tony Giovennetti, video design by Luba Lukova, costumes by Sally Ann Parsons and Carissa Kelly, set by Robert Eggers and music by Arthur Rosen, and written and directed by Karen Malpede, Another Life is a challenge to the legacy of torture. March 28-April 21, Thurs-Sat. at 8pm, Sun at 3pm; special Saturday, April 13 matinee at 3 pm.
Please Note: On Saturday, April 13, there will be a 3pm Matinee performance of ANOTHER LIFE. There will be no 8pm performance on April 13.
Play reading Monday, April 8 at 7pm
Saturday, April 13 at 8pm
Extreme Whether, a new play, will be given two premiere readings; itdraws inspiration from two earlier eco-conscious writers, Ibsen and Chekhov. It is a family drama set on an endangered wilderness estate in an endangered world; as immediate and startling as today’s extreme weather news. With fierce commitment to truth-telling and heroic persistence against the censorship of science a famous climate scientist and his younger colleague and lover battle industry climate change deniers to alert the wider public to the need for action. An old environmentalist, a wise child and a frog complete the cast. An original musical score by Arthur Rosen creates the cosmic dance. George Bartenieff, Kathleen Chalfant, Zack Grenier lead the cast alongside Soraya Broukhim, Kathleen Purcell and Alex Tavis in the two readings of this new play by Karen Malpede. April 8 at 7pm and April 13 at 8 pm, only.
FESTIVAL OF CONSCIENCE
Both plays are presented in conjunction with A Festival of Conscience, a series of post-show dialogues with major voices. These post-show talks are free to all.
March 28: Noor Elashi, writer, daughter of Ghassan Elashi, currently serving 65 years in a CMU prison in Colorado, for having led a Muslim charity that sent donations to Gaza, Pardiss Kabriaei, CCR lawyer representing Muslim’s in the U.S.
Thursday, April 4, David Swanson, author War Is A Lie, blogger, radio host
Sunday, April 7 (post-matinee): Elizabeth Holtzman, Cheating Justice & Karen J. Greenberg, Director, Center on National Security, Fordham Law.
Monday, April 8: 8 pm Reading Extreme Whether, post-show talk by Dr. James Hansen, NASA, America’s foremost climate scientist
Thursday, April 11, 8pm Another Life, tba post-show discussion
Friday, April 12, 8 pm Another Life, post-show Victoria Brittan, journalist, co-author, Guantanamo: Honour Bound to Defend Duty; Shadow Lives: The Forgotten Women of the War on Terror
Saturday, April 13: 2 pm matinee of Another Life. 4:30-6 Post-show panel, Ramzi Kassem, lawyer for Gitmo detainees, Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project, lawyer for many of the whistle blowers, including John Kiriakou; and Tom Drake, whistle blower and former intelligence officer.
Sunday, April 14: 2 pm matinee of Another Life. 4:30-6 post-show panel, Michael Ratner, Exec. Director of CCR and lawyer for Julian Assange; and Christian Parenti, author of Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, and other books, and contributing editor to The Nation.