Happy Friday everyone!! I hope you all had a great week! Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite plays. So it’s not so much fiction but I think with everything going on in the world and going on in America specifically, I really want to draw as much attention to this play as I can. I feel that it is my duty as an artist and an American to keep speaking out and speaking loud to my country and the world that this is not normal, this presidency and this administration is not normal and we are better than this… (Fair warning, this is gonna get political)
This is A Bright Room Called Day by Tony Kushner. First performed in 1985, this play follows a group of artists (mostly behind the scenes in the film industry but a few other types of artists) in 1932 Germany. So we follow these artists as Hitler rises to power. And following these artists and we get to see what happens to their industry and the art community as Hitler gains popularity and control; and a bit before that as well.
I spent a lot of time with this play in college. I directed scenes from it for years, it was our text book for our Directing Class, I’ve acted scenes from it for years. Every page in this books is covered with notes in every available open space.
Now, let me just say, I’m not calling Trump the new Hitler. There can never be another Hitler. But rereading this play things are feeling a bit too close to comfort.
This play doesn’t touch on the murder and capture of millions. It ends right before the camps started. And I keep finding myself reaching for this play at night and reading it over and over and over again, even though I could probably recite the whole thing from memory from how much time I spent with this play in college.
But what it shows is what the government did to artists and to people who spoke out for injustices. It showed the characters who were brave and strong enough to speak out and stand up and showed characters who were so stricken with fear that they felt helpless and unable to do anything and how important it is to stand up for what’s right.
As an artist myself, watching my government call the media “fake news” and telling performers to stay in their lane and not talk about politics, seems eerily similar to what Hitler’s government did. Silence the people who people listen to (artists, media) so that way we get information from the orange horses mouth first. And then he went for the Muslim community and immigrants.
Spolier alert, we don’t really get a happy ending. It’s a political play and we know what happens in Hitler’s Germany so it really can’t end well. But there is hope with some of the characters, that they can fight things.
It really is a beautifully written beautiful play that really makes you think. And makes you feel helpless and angry and scared and leave feeling mortified because you know what is going to happen. And I think the most brilliant plays do that. And this is a brilliant play.
We as a country have to keep fighting. We can’t lose hope. We cannot let this government forget that it doesn’t work for themselves. This government works for me, for you, for us. Not for them. So I’m going to leave you with one quote from this play that I really hope speaks to you (especially if you are an American) as it does to me:
“But see, that’s just the problem. How do we know? What if we lie down and give up just at the moment when… When the whole terrible thing could somehow have been reversed.”
Until next time,