It is not enough to demand insight and informative images of reality from the theater. Our theater must stimulate a desire for understanding, a delight in changing reality. Our audience must experience not only the ways to free Prometheus, but be schooled in the very desire to free him. Theater must teach all the pleasures and joys of discovery, all the feelings of triumph associated with liberation.
Last week I saw a read-through of a play at The Brecht Forum by Justin Kuritzkes titled “Drones: A Protest Play.” Set in a sci-fi, futuristic, dystopian United States overwhelmed by hyper protective government activities, the play questions social liberties and human rights during a technological “Big Brother” age. Scenarios of techno-war serve as the main scenes, with soldiers and aircraft pilots operating drones oversees rather than physically fighting themselves. This sense of safety is liberating for soldiers at first; they sit in their barracks chugging Mountain Dew and eating donuts gossiping about their equality as male, female, gay, or strait soldiers, all working together without government inquisition. The high-ranking officials even promote sexual liberation and congratulate themselves on their open-mindedness towards at one time taboos, but in the end basic human rights. However, this freedom comes as a price when big business corporations manufacturing the drones forcefully coerce legislators to promote national, corporate and eventually private sales of drones to U.S. citizens. Now, machines monitor our every move and our freedom becomes a false consciousness, one that makes us feel safe because we are being protected at all times, but one that also violates our freedom of privacy.
The show played out as absurdist vignettes of different scenarios between the President, his agents, legislators, soldiers, their wives and even university officials lobbying for new government grants to build drones in their engineering departments. Seven actors played countless characters, all professing through verbose monologues their favor for their new drone-filled world. Government officials and soldiers were egocentric with Freudian death-drive complexes and had little regard for factual evidence regarding the terrorists destined for doom. For the most part their killing operations ended in tragedy, with soldiers so anticipating a siege they instead drone-blitzed not only civilians, but also American citizens overseas. This play showcases a problematic scenario between man and his machines, and I’m looking forward to seeing “Drones: A Protest Play” in full swing.
Written by Justin Kuritzkes
Directed by Sam Alper
Dramaturg/Assistant Director: Celine Song
Sound Design: Harrison Adams
Cast: Jeena Yi, Micah Stock, Andrew Zox, John Gordon, Wei Yi Lin, Chris Tyler, Ari Rodriguez.