Tonight- A Beautiful Free Play Reading-
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I just saw a beautiful free reading of the play 'Sia' by Matthew MacKenzie. The actors, Susan Heyward, Peterson Townsend and Hunter Canning illustrated the play vibrantly through their voices and physicalization of physical pain, and excitement. If (after reading this) you want to see the reading, which I think you might, I've included details below.
The play SIA is the story of a former child soldier who takes a Canadian university student hostage in a Liberian refugee camp in West Africa, and the inspiration he receives from his nobel sister Sia. As I grew increasingly attached to the native Sia suffering at the hands of her militant government (expertly crafted by Susan Heyward) and increasingly worried for the Canadian student (brought to life by Hunter Canning's vivid portrayal), I also found myself wondering if this play was based on true events. If these characters (specifically) had experienced what we were witnessing on stage. I wanted to know so badly because their story was taking a toll on my psyche, and a part of me wanted to run out of the room. Somehow understanding the story was real life, I thought, would make me stay. Then I took a step back and realized, it didn't matter. It didn't matter whether this was a documentary piece of work, because the conflict in Liberia was and is real. The danger these characters experienced in the play is existent right now for people in Liberia.
The play also addresses the partly selfish quality existent in philanthropic work. How it is ultimately self serving. When a Canadian University student goes to West Africa (to spend his summer doing something good) and he gets kidnapped- the outrage his government has over his (a solitary student's) capture, compared with their relative ambivalence about natives in West Africa, suffering abuses from their own government is thrown into a harsh light with the intertwining of Sia's story of courage and suffering.
The playwright mentioned in the talk back that it is not his intention to say philanthropic, or volunteer work is bad- on the contrary. But, I think it is worth noting ones position in the grand scheme of things. Certainly, after watching this, I am interested in researching more about Liberia and it's history. If anything that is something theatre is good for, opening the mind, through punching the heart with good story telling.
One more Free Reading of this play on April 2nd- Facebook invite here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=162451763809591