Following his performance at President Obama's second inauguration, singer-songwriter James Taylor [spoke about] Obama's executive actions on gun control: "I think the nation is very divided on gun control, but I think the majority of us feel strongly -- even the majority of gun owners feel strongly -- that we need to make some sacrifices to our freedoms, if that's the way to put it. We need to make some sacrifices to what we might want to have, in order to safeguard our children."
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This Saturday, theater artists join in March on Washington for Gun Control
Press release posted on NoPassport website
NoPassport Theatre Alliance & Press, founded by 2012 OBIE-award winning playwright Caridad Svich will stage a free theatre action to support gun control in collaboration with Theater J (Ari Roth, Artistic Director) and interdisciplinary arts ensemble force/collision (John Moletress, founder) and Twinbiz (Yvette Heyliger, founder) at Georgetown University's Gonda Theatre in Washington D.C. on Saturday, January 26, 2012 at 5pm. This theatre action will feature new work by playwrights Neil LaBute (reasons to be pretty), Jennifer Maisel (The Last Seder), Oliver Mayer (Blade to the Heat), Winter Miller (In Darfur), Matthew Paul Olmos (I put the fear of mexico in 'em), Ian Rowlands (Welsh Arts Council), Gary Winter (13p), August Schulenberg (Flux Theatre Ensemble, NY), Caridad Svich (The House of the Spirits) and more, under the direction of the force/collision ensemble. This free theatre action will consist of readings of new work to coincide with the March on Washington for Gun Control organized by citizen-artist Molly Smith and her partner Suzanne Blue Star Boy. Actors currently scheduled to take part in this event include Jocelyn Kuritsky (core member, Woodshed Collective, New York), Rachel Zampelli, Mark Krawczyk, Frank Britton, Howard Wahlberg, Dexter William Hamlett, Sue Jin Song and Karin Rosnizeck. The lead dramaturge for this NoPassport theatre alliance event is Zac Kline.
FROM TC: There may be other cities organizing events, too, but I've learned that Pittsburgh will hold its own "theater action" this Saturday: "Although the point of the event is to support sensible legislation that reduces gun violence and makes us all safer," writes organizer Kyle Bostian in a release, "we hope to include submissions that reflect a range of perspectives on and approaches to the problem and its possible solutions. We welcome rants and polemics, heartfelt appeals and personal histories, as well as more balanced pieces that explore the complexities or conflicting sides of the issue."
Commentary: The guns in my plays
Tammy Ryan, Howlround.com, 1/20/13
I have never owned a gun, never touched a gun, never even ever seen a real gun... but the characters in my plays do. Not in all of them -- just the most successful ones, the ones that have been sanctioned by the powers that be as "good," the plays that receive professional development, multiple productions, get published, and win awards. In each one of those plays a character either has a gun, shoots a gun, is threatened by a gun, threatens someone else with a gun, is afraid of guns or is somehow traumatized by the violence of a gun. This is a deeply disturbing revelation for me. I don't think of myself as writing about guns. I think I'm writing about family, communication, the power of forgiveness and healing. But the presence of guns in my writing is undeniable. Marsha Norman said in her article Not There Yet, "People like the plays in which the women act like guys, talk like guys, wave guns around and threaten to kill each other...The critics have liked my "guy" plays -- the ones with guns in them -- and pretty much trashed the rest." I'm not advocating for self-censorship. I'm not saying never write about guns or violence, since writing about it is a way of standing up against it. As a student of mine said recently, "There are three hundred million guns in this country. We are clearly a gun culture. How can art not reflect that?" I read somewhere that after we dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Bertolt Brecht went back and revised the plays that came before. He felt it wasn't the same world anymore, and that his plays, even the ones already written had to reflect that new reality. The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary has done that to me, it's altered my view of reality. I'm not Bertolt Brecht, so I won't be revising those plays with guns in them, but going forward I'm going to be more mindful of what Brecht also said, "Art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality, but a hammer with which to shape it." We as writers can reflect society or reshape it, but we also have the opportunity to more completely re-imagine it. And in that re-imagination, I believe, lies all of our hopes.
Dallas sculptor harvests guns to make art
Jerome Weeks, KERA-TV's Art & Seek blog, 1/17/13
Groups across the country and in North Texas have been organizing gun buybacks for decades. But one local program stands out: Peter Johnson is the founder of a group called Dallas Common, and he guesses he's taken more than 20,000 guns off the streets in the last 30 years. Gun buybacks are sometimes criticized as merely symbolic, but Johnson believes they make a difference. "The gun buybacks that I have done do not solve the problem of proliferation of guns in our society," Johnson says. "But my guarantee, if I buy a gun off the street, Byron takes it and melts the barrel and the breach so that it will never, never shoot again. It will never, never injure anybody, or kill anybody." Byron is metal sculptor and welding instructor Byron Zarrabi. For the past six years, he's been turning the buy-back guns into pieces of art. The sculptures travel to churches and public meetings. Some have gone to city and county leaders supportive of gun buy-backs. A few years back, Peter Johnson sent a couple to a US Conference of Mayors. "...This is not really about money." What it is about, he says, is sparking debate. Like the piece that got artist Zarrabi talking with his son and his elementary-school pals. "They were all looking at it and they were like saying wow this is so cool. And I had to tell them it's not cool. That's the whole point of the sculpture." Zarrabi says. "That's what really worries me is this sense that our youngsters are thinking that this is a cool thing. It's a cultural problem." The artist says he's not anti-gun. He's a hunter, went to a military school and qualified as a sharpshooter. But he says guns out on the streets are out of hand. That gets an "amen" from Peter Johnson: "Our propensity for guns and violence is a dark, dark cloud over our head. I've got friends in this city right now that are riding around with an automatic machine gun in the trunk of their car. Why would you need that in the trunk of your car? Who are we afraid of? Who are these guns to kill, each other?" Exactly the questions Byron Zarrabi wants to raise with his art.