Wars erase language, borders, foodways, religion, culture, bloodlines, and history. War also offers a time for great rumination. Some take hands to marble, brush to canvas, pen to paper, body to space, and voice to pulpit. The Persian Wars and legendary muscle flexing of the Athenians and Spartans gave us the great and brilliants minds of Aristotle, Plato and Socrates.
Since those tumultuous times of the 5th century, the world has seen a great many wars and heard the musings of a great many minds. Each offering a new way to absorb the glory and destruction that lay in the wake of these ritual, social, and political upheavals.
The current War on Women, the struggle against and to maintain women's civil and reproductive rights takes me to Giambologna's Rape of the Sabine Women. When I stood in front of this sculpture during the summer of 2001, I was overcome. I felt in awe of its beauty and gutted by its terror. I tried to create a new story. "No, the arch of her back and parting of her lips is out of ecstasy. The reach of her hand a desperate attempt to get closer to the gods where such love is experienced eternally."
Satisfied, I stepped back to take a photograph. But through the lens of my disposal camera, all that I had conjured quickly and completely disappeared. All I could see was a woman stripped of her dignity, whose body and soul were taken, tossed, and handled against her will.
I captured the image and later taped it to the first page of my journal. I still have it. It's a reminder of my struggle ... how to negotiate the beauty of that masterful sculpture and the terror of that moment in history ... a moment too often repeated in the name of conquering nations and heroes. Not that I need a reminder. The world offers enough of them every day.
This is why I'm so grateful to the theater and feel quite blessed to be a playwright. I write to answer big, challenging, scary, and awe inspiring questions about the world. My next play, Noms de Guerre, will address the War on Women; specifically, how women actively take part in it. But make no mistake, while beautiful--this meditation on women--there is no ecstasy in my query. These are terrifying times in which we live.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!