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War of Words Part I

Art is more than imitating life – as the expression goes – it facilities; it communicates, it combats it. Articulate Theatre Company explores the role of the artist’s role in activism with the Art of Protest.

ArtsIndependent joins all the sites of Five Star Arts Journals in sharing the thoughts of the soldiers of Articulate Theatre as they declare war…


Articulating The Arts: The Art of Protest: April 3 – 6 (April 3 – 5 @ 8pm; April 6 @ 7pm) at TADA Theatre 15 W. 28th St, NYC, 2nd Floor. Tkts: http://www.articulatetheatre.com/ata-5-the-art-of-protest.html

We asked the entire company one question:

Why are you doing this? 

Articulate will team playwrights with visual artists to create a signature benefit event examining other art forms through the lens of theatre. It brings together the ATC ensemble and guest artists with unique works of art to use as a springboard and source of inspiration for new theatre works.

Participating Playwrights: J. B. Alexander, Jaisey Bates, Thomas C. Dunn, Jeff Dunne, Elizabeth Gordon, Liv Matthews, Robin Rice, Scott C. Sickles, Judd Lear Silverman, and Bara Swain

Bara Swain – Playwright (Yearning for Peace)

14606442_10155334069777782_799681378722348948_n.jpgWhy am I doing this project?  Like all of Articulating the Arts (AtA) programming, the call for submissions on a specific theme is simply too challenging to ignore. I enjoy finding inspiration from a topic that isn’t in my comfort zone, and then finding a way to be true to my voice as I craft a response.


Elizabeth Gordon – Playwright (Perversity)

I’m doing this project because it honors two of the noblest activities humans can perform: protesting and art-making. And when those two passions come together, the result can change people’s minds, and as such, the world. As a playwright, I’m interested in telling stories about people who are moved to take action, to question authority and tradition, to act according to their deepest beliefs. Protest artists do that. They wake us up to our better selves. We damn well ought to listen.

Scott C. Sickles – Playwright (#Bastille)

53868136_10161713277165434_1519549327561719808_nI am doing this project because I’m pissed off. I’m pissed off at the government for taking corruption to such great new heights that people on the far left are not only looking back wistfully at Bush/Cheney, but they’re also longing for the halcyon days of Richard Nixon! I’m pissed off that on the opposite end of that archconservative white supremacist blight, people on the left are driven by a crippling misguided idealism and an absence of pragmatism. In the middle of all that, I’m pissed off that over the past two and a half centuries (almost) we’ve created a technological arsenal so powerful that, in the wrong hands, it could make 1984 look like a Peanuts cartoon… all of which only feeds the power, corruption and lies on one end and the half-assed idealism on the other. I AM PISSED OFF! That said, I also wanted to work more closely with Articulate after being a member for over a year and, like all playwrights, crave attention and applause. I mean at this point, why lie?

Jaisey Bates – Playwright (Eenie Meenie Miney NO)

21730848_10155025974182896_4454614160725627811_n.jpgIt is Wednesday – response deadline day – and I am writing a paragraph about why I wrote. Idk how I learned of the submission but it caught my eye with its specificity and as an eternal student wired to meet assignment deadlines with my utmost effort but at the final possible moment the structure and limited time spoke to me and it was the day before the deadline I think so I studied each image carefully held it up to my words’ heart and said See this art – does it speak to me – does it speak to we who walk through words and worlds so differently?  And each image spoke stories but then last on the list was if we wished to suggest other protest art and our shared heart leapt with sudden fevered hope wanting and unleashed oceans of pleas and prayers: There. That image. That image that haunts us still with hope grief horror wonder awe: The Grim Reaper. The children. A warrior child between them – she stands rooted ready. She looks up. She says No. Even now, to write of this image I weep.  And so I wrote to ATC and they (rapidly thank goodness) responded to me Yes. And my words and I on fire wrote. We made the deadline. Barely, if I recall. Why are we – my words and me – doing this project?  Because children in school are writing last wills and I love you goodbyes during lockdowns cowering in closets and corners crying. Because children are dying. Because we’ve written a world where children are unwritten – it’s all in the language of our lives – how we learn to read our world. Because if we wish our children and ourselves and our world to survive we have to open our language’s eyes and so we — my words and me — shared words in response to protest art and said Here, our heart. The place where our heart beats. We hold this space for you. “Why are you doing this project?” Because ATC read these words and found them worthy, and we are so grateful our heart – our grief hope faith and fire – will have a chance to speak to others.

Robin Rice – Playwright (Before Yesterday Was Better)

35270257_10156508730536018_2287150413893337088_n.jpgWhy am I doing this project?

*Because Articulate Theatre Company productions are creative, exciting, and beautifully executed.

*Because Articulate Theatre Company’s Articulating the Arts productions are unlike any other productions of short plays inspired by a theme. Their themes are meaningful. They challenge playwrights (that’s me), designers, directors and actors to rise to material that has heft and depth. And audiences are left with something to think about.

*Because decisions must be made. Thousands of theater companies and competitions are soliciting short plays and there’s only one of me with only so much time. I have to pick and choose how to use my time and where to direct my energy. Although I mostly write full-length plays, the Articulate theme of Protest Art is right in my wheelhouse. I was a visual artist before I began writing plays, and I’ve been an activist all my life. Clearly, this is a project I needed to tackle. I’m very grateful that my play, which examines some of the many ramifications of gun ownership, was chosen for ATA.

Judd Lear Silverman – Playwright (Consequences)

14222263_10154482820034282_8780771029043822327_nIn an age where public action seems legislated by politics and the almighty dollar versus the will of the people, it is vital that artists stand up for human values, leading the way to a finer, more inclusive and considered society.  Art is the surest form of protest, for it awakens an emotional response and encourages a change in the status quo.  It is our job to get people to think and to feel, to recognize our common humanity—and to help that humanity lead us to respond with compassion.  Playwrights in particular can lead, not only by dramatizing a specific incident (or in this case a particular image), but by showing how the reflection of a public statement has a ripple effect, stretching out in unexpected and unanticipated ways.  Articulating the Arts:  The Art of Protest examines how both graphic art and theatrical art can make people pause and think, to guide how they react to an issue, perhaps, but more importantly to make sure that they are stirred to participate, to get involved on a personal level.  Art stirs emotion, which in turn produces action.

Thomas C. Dunn – Playwright (Triggered)

13103416_1693428890908927_5789640255524980016_n.jpgEvery day, the citizens of the United States play Russian Roulette. Approximately 100 people die each day from gun violence. Annually, we average 12,830 homicides. 487 accidental deaths. 22,274 suicides – all of which are exponentially more likely with a gun in the house. So we know today in the U.S, there were 100 gun deaths. Tomorrow there will be 100 more. And the next day… But we, as a society, are still willing to let the triggers be  pulled, simply hoping the gun barrel is not aimed at someone we love. Rather than pass sensible gun legislation, we roll the dice. And there is nothing that seems to be able to change us from this course. Mass shootings with high-powered rifles? No. Kindergartners gunned down in classrooms? No.The deaths of Abraham Lincoln, JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King Jr,, Marvin Gaye, Tupac Shakur, John Lennon? No. Is there anyone we love enough where our overwhelming grief would actually foster change? There is. And that is why I wrote my short play TRIGGERED. When it is a gun supporter’s child, one they are raising and love and would sacrifice their life for who is directly in the line of fire, I think they would want change at that moment. They would trade their gun for their son or daughter. Just not for yours.


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