Protest is Patriotic: Words of Protest for the Fourth of July

Anthony Lee Medina and cast in Hamilton, 2018

The United States of America was founded in protest and resistance; most of the text of the Declaration of Independence is a protest against the actions of the British Crown. It is Americans’ patriotic duty to protest American injustice — “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually,” James Baldwin said —  and the Fourth of July is the most patriotic day of the year.  The holiday historically has been a time for protest. (What to the slave is the Fourth of July,” – Frederick Douglass, 1852)  Judging from protests and rallies across the country today, we are returning to that tradition.

Some apt quotations:
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In the Body of The World Review: Eve Ensler, Fighting Cancer and Injustice, Ranting, Riffing, Raging, Revealing

Perhaps you’d think it chutzpah that in “In The Body of the World,” the latest solo show by Eve Ensler, best known for “The Vagina Monologues,” she merges her story of her fight against uterine cancer with world crises such as mass rape in the Congo and the deadly oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Maybe you’d be squeamish at her graphic storytelling of her illness, treatment and recovery, during which she literally bares her physical scars, and exposes her emotional ones, which are more disturbing. You could well disapprove of her self-defeating and dubious speculation about what might have caused her cancer – from tofu to Tab to bad reviews.

You could grapple with all these reactions to Eve Ensler and her show – I certainly did at one time or another during its 90 minutes – and still find “In The Body of the World” (as I did) eye-opening, entertaining, and one of the most satisfying works of theater so far this year.
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Watch #BroadwaySoWhite? People of Color Panels at BroadwayCon 2018

Speakers at three of the panels at BroadwayCon — Beyond the Heights: Latinx Representation in Theatre; Fan Tan Fantastic: Asian American Representation; and Being A Critic of Color — summarize their discussions.

BroadwayCon: Anthony Rapp on Speaking Out. Actors and Activism.

“I wasn’t afraid of the risk; I don’t know why, maybe I’m stupid,” Anthony Rapp said in answer to an audience member’s question about the difficulty of going public with his accusations of sexual misconduct against Kevin Spacey.

Rapp was speaking at the third annual BroadwayCon, a theater convention that he co-founded, in a panel entitled “Actors and Activism,” along with fellow panelists Lisa Kron, Ilana Levine, Arian Moayed, Emily Skeggs, and Britton Smith.

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#ArtActionDay: Events in NYC

Today, the first anniversary of the inauguration of Donald Trump, is Art Action Day.
The day is organized by The Federation, founded last year to spread the message:

Art is essential to democracy

There are events planned throughout the country. Here are some in New York:

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Martin Luther King Jr on The Three Sicknesses of U.S. Society: Racism, Poverty, and War

On Martin Luther King Day, many people read or listen once again to his most famous speech, from August, 1963,  I Have a Dream, But today, people are finding King’s speech below, delivered four years later, on August 31, 1967, especially apt. Speaking at the first and only National Conference on New Politics in Chicago, he focused on what he considered the “triple prong sickness” of “racism, excessive materialism and militarism,” and exhorted the listeners:

“Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world, declaring eternal opposition to poverty, racism and militarism.”

He said:

“…on some positions; cowardice asks the question, is it safe; expediency asks the question, is it politic; vanity asks the question, is it popular, but conscience asks the question, is it right?”

King was killed seven months later.

Transcribed excerpts of the speech, with some sentences highlighted, are below the audio of the complete speech.

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#WorldAIDSDay: Still Here, Still Affecting the Theater Community

The death from AIDS of theater artist Michael Friedman in September at the age of 41 was a shocking reminder that, yes, people still die from AIDS — and yes it is still affecting the New York theater community, a fact worth repeating on World AIDS Day, which is today.

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Appreciating Michael Friedman: Review of His 2011 Occupy Wall Street Musical

In honor of Michael Friedman (September 24, 1975 – September 9, 2017) here is my October 29, 2011 review of “Let Me Ascertain You: Occupy Wall Street, Stories From Liberty Square,” a one-night only musical presented at Joe’s Pub by The Civilians, the theater company Friedman co-founded. (It’s astonishing this was only six years ago, no?)

OccupyonStage1 There is the man who was laid off a year and a half ago as the creative director for a children’s television production company, and showed up at Zuccotti Park a day ago after being evicted from his apartment. There is the firefighter from New Jersey who has served Read more of this post