NEW YORK CITY | “Artists must react,” writes dramaturge Zac Kline in the foreword to a new play collection, 24 Gun Control Plays. “Artists must react to the world around them to be fully engaged as artists and citizens. They must react to what they see in the world that inspires beauty, and also what troubles them, what makes them questions, what makes them want to effect change and makes them want to seek out a dialogue with others. The artist’s responsibility is not to answer questions, but surely to ask them.”
Kline has co-edited, with Obie-winning playwright Caridad Svich, a new collection from NoPassport Press that grapples with the complicated issue of gun control. The book, released on February 22 which was National Day of Service for Gun Control, could not be more topical and timely.
Gun violence is not an America-only problem. As is evident in the Oscar Pistorius case, which has gripped the world, the issue of violence has struck the heart of South Africa, a country that suffers more than 15,000 murders every year. Pistorius, an Olympic gold medalist and double amputee, fired four shots through a locked bathroom door and killed the woman concealed behind it. Pistorius claims he thought he was shooting an intruder, but the police have charged him with the premeditated murder of his girlfriend, the model Reeva Steenkamp.
The question of guns is a serious theatrical issue and not just a political one, because guns are frequently a crucial feature in drama. Many plays have characters that either own a gun (think of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, for example), shoot a gun (Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya), is threatened by a gun (David Rabe‘s Streamers), threatens someone else with a gun (Annie Oakley) or is somehow traumatized by the violence of a gun.
“This is a deeply disturbing revelation for me,” reflects playwright Tammy Ryan (Pig) in essay in 24 Gun Control Plays. “First, I don’t think of myself as writing about guns. I think I’m writing about family, communication, the power of forgiveness and healing. But the presence of guns in my writing is undeniable.”
Playwrights featured in 24 Gun Control Plays include Neil LaBute, Elaine Avila, Kyle Bostian, Neil Blackadder, Alex Broun, Gab Cody, Tameka Cage Conley, Cecilia Copeland, Yvette Heyliger, Amina Henry, Zac Kline, Jennifer Maisel, Lynn Manning, Oliver Mayer, Chiori Miyagawa, Matthew Paul Olmos, Ian Rowlands, Tammy Ryan, Saviana Stanescu, Caridad Svich, Chris Weikel, Winter Miller, Gary Winter, and Laura Zam.
The volume also features a reflection and interview by DW Gregory, nominated for a Pulitzer for The Good Daughter. “How do you as an artist respond to an event like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary?” Gregory asks. “Obviously you believe that art/theatre has something to say that is worthwhile — but my question is what? What can we possibly say or do that will make any difference to anyone in a culture so saturated with violence, so in love with the gun?”
The selected works in this volume were presented in collaboration with NoPassport, Theater J and force/collision in Washington D.C. on January 26, 2013, and with Pittsburgh PACT to coincide with the March on Washington for Gun Control led by Arena Stage artistic director Molly Smith and Suzanne Blue Star Boy.
A percentage of the sales of this volume will go toward Amnesty International’s Arms Control and Human Rights Campaign: No Arms for Atrocities. — randy gener, in the theater of One World
24 GUN CONTROL PLAYS
ed. by Caridad Svich and Zac Kline
print on demand paperback 6 X 9 (ebook forthcoming)
US Retail: $15.00.
- CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT | NoPassport and NYU Gallatin team up for “Dreaming the Americas” conference in March (theaterofoneworld.org)
- Gun control ad: Assault weapons ‘not for cowards’ (politico.com)
- Experts: Pistorius violated gun regulations (nzherald.co.nz)
- Experts: Pistorius violated basic firearms rules (espn.go.com)
- Gun Control Is A Racist Tool (youviewed.com)
- Louise Mensch on gun laws (thesun.co.uk)
- Gun Owner vs. McConnell (peninsulademocrat.wordpress.com)
- Robin Kelly wins Illinois Democratic primary on gun control (guardian.co.uk)
- “Obama’s Anti-Gun Campaign Is A Fraud” (youviewed.com)