And that somehow the act of watching this as a group would give us all the chance to face powerful truths about ourselves—and perhaps find some kind of release, or a path to something better. That’s what theatre still does, for me at least. There are problems so big, it takes a larger-than-life world to contain them.
Dan Dietz, from my interview on the Open Forum blog.
H: In choosing to set your story in the Lower Ninth ward, did you have any fears of cultural appropriation? Given your own background, how were you able to enter and explain that world?
D: I absolutely worried about it. So much so that I contacted a good friend of mine, the Literary Manager of a major American regional theatre, and explained my concept for the play—basically asking her, “Should I walk away now? Do I even have the right to tell this story?” And her response was pretty wonderful, because it was both encouragement and challenge: she advised me to embrace the challenge of writing the play…and do whatever it took to do so honestly and with as much authenticity as anyone who’s not from New Orleans could. So I did tons of research: through documentaries, interviews, anecdotal accounts, official accounts, photographs…and of course driving those city streets. Then I channeled all the southern rhythms I’d gotten in my bones from growing up in Georgia, let them flow through all those discovered voices and knowledge, and a play began to take shape. It’s a unique place with a powerful voice, and I’ve done my best to do it justice.
I was trying to figure out how you could do justice to both the sheer size of Katrina and its effect on that city while still keeping it very true and human, and that’s where I started thinking about the Greeks.
I began writing A FRONTIER – my thesis play for my MFA at Columbia – in 2009, a moment of national uncertainty that was both financial and moral. With so many families struggling (and continuing to struggle), with so many dreams fractured through the skin, it felt as though we were deceiving ourselves if we did not take a sober look at the mythologies that this country has prided itself on, and that it has perpetuated in its position as the land of opportunity. Participation in the American narrative has brought great wealth and prosperity, along with severe inequality and environmental devastation. But it is very difficult to adjust the stories that give us definition: stories about our country, our family, our culture. Four years later, there is a tentative sense of economic recovery for some, but the underlying problems have not necessarily been addressed: too many of us cling desperately to the old American ideal. How could we not, when it is all we know?
—Jason Gray Platt, Playwright, A FRONTIER, AS TOLD BY THE FRONTIER
Today’s tumblr is all about Columbia School of the Arts love.
#jesusyear Day 22: Back at @bushwickstarr (tear) for Eliza’s play, which is all about #jesusyear birthdays! At dinner, I tried ramps, and then a man walked through the restaurant to the kitchen, carrying half of a pig carcass over his shoulder, while humming. That was definitely a first. I was a little turned on, not gonna lie. #1newthingaday
So jealous! I really wish I could have gotten up to see The Hotel Colors. I love Eliza & Anna the most!