FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 14, 2017
Glenview, IL – Executive and Artistic Director Keith Gerth and Associate Artistic Director Stephen Smith announce Oil Lamp Theater’s next show of the 2017 season, The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden, a contemporary comedy by Chicago native WC Turck. This presentation, directed by Keith Gerth, will be performed from March 9 through April 16, 2017 at 1723 Glenview Road in Glenview.
The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden is a thought-provoking satire that tackles important questions of freedom and privacy. As the play opens, a “press conference” is scheduled in Terminal F of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport. Audiences are introduced to Edward Snowden (Nick Bryant) by his alluring Russian “minder,” Natasha (Lara Dohner). She tells us that Snowden, the infamous former CIA employee who revealed details about classified U.S. government surveillance programs in 2013, is making himself available for questions from the “press” – the audience in the theater – who are encouraged to submit questions for Snowden via social media using their smartphones. So begins an evening of immersive and interactive theater that takes audiences on a thought-provoking journey into the chilling world of global data-gathering and surveillance.
Snowden’s appearance at this press conference is monitored not only by Natasha – whom we learn is an agent of the Russian intelligence service – but also by Flenkins (JT Nagle), an American NSA operative. Flenkins takes frequent opportunities to remind Snowden that he is now an “enemy of America” guilty of treason. As the two trade pointed barbs and taunts, this sardonic comedy offers thought-provoking revelations about the security state and contemporary spy culture. Snowden, who acknowledges that his life “has become a bit complicated,” describes the circumstances that led him to do what he did, and encourages us to consider what his revelations might mean for both the democracy and the civil rights we take for granted.
Snowden outlines some of the frightening realities of the modern information state, making it clear that our understanding of information technology is being outpaced by the technology itself. He warns that we really don’t understand the risks associated with the technology that has slowly trickled into our lives in recent years. This “invasion” is best exemplified by the smartphone, a seemingly innocuous device that has become almost indispensable for most of us. During his “press conference,” Snowden points out that our government not only knows virtually everything about us, but that global surveillance has made our faith in the idea of personal privacy both misguided and dangerously naïve.
This thought-provoking black comedy raises many questions, among them: Is all this new information-gathering technology a blessing or a curse? Is our global security system a safeguard against terrorism or a threat to our civil rights and democracy? Is Edward Snowden a hero or a traitor? The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden takes no stand either way on these questions, leaving it to viewers to decide for themselves.
Rounding out the cast of this provocative satire are Katie Schwaber as a cynical airport gate agent and Rob Weinstein as an American traveler lost in the airport.
The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden premiered in Chicago in 2013. This Oil Lamp production marks only the second time this important play has been professionally staged.
The cast of The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden features Nick Bryant as Edward Snowden, Lara Dohner as Natasha, the FSB Agent, JT Nagel as Agent Flenkins of the NSA, Katie Schwaber as the Gate Attendant and Rob Weinstein as The American Traveler. Ben Harvey serves as Stage Manager.
W.C. Turck (Playwright) is a radio host, activist and the author of three novels and a war memoir. His first novel, Broken: One Soldier’s Unexpected Journey Home, was recommended by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) for its treatment of PTSD. His second book, Everything for Love: A Memoir of Love and War, recounts his experiences during the Bosnian conflict and the siege of Sarajevo. His most recent book, Shoot Down, is a study of the events leading up to the shoot-down of Malaysia Flight 17 that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. It takes a comprehensive look at the growing crisis to safety in civil aviation. Turck also hosted a weekly TV and radio show “Revolution and Beer,” with co-host Brian Murray. Previously, Turck worked in the airline industry for both Lufthansa and United Airlines. He is an expert in Balkan and European History, Nationalism, PTSD and Issues of genocide and racism. He lives in Chicago with his wife and three rescue cats, Smudge, Oliver and Jinx. For more information, visit http://www.wcturckhelterskelter.wordpress.com
Keith Gerth (Artistic Director and Director) founded Oil Lamp Theater in 2005. Prior to establishing the Theater, which was located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, Keith held a number of positions with wide-ranging skills. After high school, Keith was a carpenter for eight years with Murray Countertops in Streator, Illinois. Keith left that position in 1989 to obtain a degree in Financial Accounting from Illinois State University. Keith graduated with honors and began working for the global professional services firm of Deloitte in 1991 and became a Certified Public Accountant. He worked at Deloitte for fifteen years in the Audit and Assurance practice, which he retired from in 2005 at the level of Director. Keith was professionally trained in acting at Act One Studios in Chicago, Illinois. Keith has been actively involved in the community through Chicago Cares and has served as a board officer for The Illinois Fatherhood Initiative and the Glenview Art League. Keith has also served on the board of Factory Theater in Chicago. Keith is married to Carole Flamm. They live in Northbrook.
Performances of The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden are presented Thursdays through Sundays, with evening performances at 8:00pm and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm. Tickets are $35 and include complimentary cookies and soft drinks. Oil Lamp Theater is BYOB with complimentary corkage and glasses. The complete performance schedule and tickets are available at 847-834-0738 or online at oillamptheater.org. Group rates are available.
THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF EDWARD SNOWDEN – IMMERSION OPPORTUNITIES
At Oil Lamp Theater we seek to offer our guests opportunities to experience our theatrical works in a deeper way. Along those lines, we recommend the following materials:
Citizenfour – HBO Films (Video, 2014 – 1 hour, 54 min.)
Documentary-maker Laura Poitras follows Edward Snowden and covers the NSA spying scandal that shocked the world. Citizenfour is a tense real-life thriller with unprecedented access to Snowden as he reveals classified documents pertaining to mass illegal invasions of privacy by the NSA. Citizenfour received critical acclaim upon release, and received numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2015 Oscars.
Terminal F: Chasing Edward Snowden (Video, 2015 – 58 min.)
Strikingly photographed and sharply edited, this documentary, directed by John Goetz, Poul-Erik Heilbuth, presents a solid primer on the position Snowden held at the NSA, his motivations for exposing sensitive and potentially damaging materials, and the reality of his life as one of the most notorious whistleblowers in American history. This film offers fresh and revealing insights along the way, thanks to interviews with his father, his co-workers, former NSA Director Michael Hayden, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, reporter Glenn Greenwald, and Snowden himself.
Edward Snowden’s TED talk: Here’s How We Take Back the Internet (Video, March 2014 – 35 min.)
Appearing by telepresence video feed, Edward Snowden speaks at TED 2014 about surveillance and Internet freedom. The right to data privacy, he suggests, is not a partisan issue, but requires a fundamental rethink of the role of the internet in our lives — and the laws that protect it. “Your rights matter,” he says, “because you never know when you’re going to need them.” Chris Anderson interviews, with special guest Tim Berners-Lee.
No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald (Book, 2014 – 330 pp.)
In May 2013, Greenwald set out for Hong Kong to meet an anonymous source who claimed to have astonishing evidence of government spying and insisted on communicating only through heavily encrypted channels. That source turned out to be the twenty-nine-year-old NSA contractor Edward Snowden. His revelations about the agency’s widespread, systemic overreach proved to be some of the most explosive and consequential news in recent history, triggering a fierce debate over national security and information privacy.
Greenwald fits the pieces together, recounting his eleven-day trip to Hong Kong, examining the broader implications of the surveillance detailed in his reporting for The Guardian, and revealing fresh information on the NSA’s unprecedented abuse of power with documents from the Snowden archive. No Place to Hide has sparked outrage around the globe and also been hailed by voices across the political spectrum as an essential contribution to our understanding of the U.S. surveillance state.
Oil Lamp Theater is located in downtown Glenview, Illinois, at 1723 Glenview Road. Free parking lots are available immediately west of the theater and across the street. Street parking is also available throughout downtown Glenview. Handicap parking is available adjacent to the theater.
The theater may be reached by car (approximately one mile west of I-94) or by Metra (three blocks east of Milwaukee District/North – Glenview Station). For more information on traveling to Oil Lamp Theater, visit oillamptheater.org/plan-visit.
Title: The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden
By: W.C. Turck
Dates: First performance, community night and press opening: Thursday, March 9, 8:00pm
Closing performance: Sunday, April 16, 3:00pm
Schedule: Thursdays through Sundays. Evening performances at 8:00pm, Sunday matinees
Location: Oil Lamp Theater, 1723 Glenview Road, Glenview
Prices: All performances $35
Group and student rates are available
Box Office: 847-834-0738; oillamptheater.org
ABOUT OIL LAMP THEATER
Over the past eleven years, Oil Lamp Theater has been dedicated to the presentation of traditional theater in an immersive, intimate setting. Under the executive and artistic leadership of Keith Gerth, Oil Lamp Theater has welcomed more than 30,000 guests into its unique, inviting venues. In March, 2012, Oil Lamp Theater was incorporated at a not-for-profit theater and established its current 60-seat location in downtown Glenview. The professional company performs plays that present and appeal to core American traditional values relevant to current issues. Oil Lamp Theater welcomes patrons as family, encouraging a personal atmosphere and artist interactions to emphasize human emotional connections.
Find Oil Lamp Theater on Facebook or follow @OilLampTheater on Twitter. For more information, visit oillamptheater.org.