I recently traveled to the UK and the East Coast of the US and was surrounded by media coverage of the Occupy protests in every city I visited. In Central London the Occupy Movement teamed up with the public sector to strike over lost pensions. In my old neighborhood in North West London, residents occupied the recently closed Kensal Rise Library with candlelit vigils to prevent the local government from emptying the library of books. Meanwhile, newspapers and tabloids paint lovely portraits of overindulgent spending for the recent Royal Wedding and the upcoming 2012 Olympic games.
As I arrived in New York, protesters stormed the set of Law & Order – SVU to protest the use of Occupy Wall Street for commercial entertainment value. In Boston, I witnessed a satirical Occupy March where the protesters dressed as the 1% and claimed things like, “More Blood for Oil,” “Education is a right, only for the rich and white,” “Longer hours, less pay,” and “Let them eat cake.”
At the read-through for the show on Sunday I asked the cast, musicians, writers and directors to throw out thoughts about their experience with the Occupy Movement. Both positive and negative reactions resonate in the discussion of the fluid nature of the movement, that it seems to take voice from the most important issue in a particular community, rather than one specific universal goal. People are upset and moved by so many different issues that using the term “Occupy” has been an all encompassing way to include everything from Wall Street, unemployment to police brutality.
With Occupy Theater Pub! I am hoping to present a wide variety of perspectives and allow the audience to draw their own conclusions about their own role in the Occupy Movement. The show features both new and historical material including: a first hand account of the Occupy Oakland protest by writer Matt Werner; a childhood board game take on Occupy Wall Street with “Occupy Park Place” by Kirk Shimano; a Kindergarten teacher trying to help us make sense of the Occupy protests in “Occupy the Kids” by Ashley Cowan; and a misguided superhero in Claire Rice’s “Occupy Man.” There are also reflections on the Civil Rights Movement with a speech by Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panthers and new play by Christian Simonsen, “Last Man Sitting,” about what happens after the protests end.
What is important to me about presenting Occupy Theater Pub! is engaging in a dialogue that is happening now. The topic of Occupy is rich, loaded, thrilling and seems to still be finding its footing both on a local, national and international level. I am both excited and terrified to put on a show that is about something that is still moving and changing, young and misunderstood.
If you are inspired to get involved after the show, I recommend checking out the information about the upcoming Occupy Wall Street West next Friday, January 20, 2011.
And don’t miss OCCUPY THEATER PUB on Monday, January 16th at 8 PM! This is a FREE event, so we don’t take reservations, but get there early to ensure a seat!