Liberal Literature

Preparing for my first trip to the Balkans in 1992 as the siege of Sarajevo was beginning, I consumed what little Yugoslav and Balkan literature was available at the time. It gave me a decided advantage over journalists. At the end of the war I was able to immerse myself more fully in in literature from the former-Yugoslavia. One of those was perhaps the most overlooked. under appreciated and misunderstood writers, at least outside of what once constituted Yugoslavia; the late Mesa Selimovich (Pronounced: Mesha Selimovich).

This piece isn’t really about Selimovich (26 April 1910 – 11 July 1982), who wrote seminal and iconic world like Dervish and Death, and The Fortress. Although you can now stun and impress Balkan friends by knowing his name. it is a lesson to all true writers who aspire in transcending to literature, just as the would-be artist aspires to become a master painter like Picasso, Titian or whomever. But here is the key, it is impossible to properly be on the side of Kings and despots, presidents, dictators and oligarchs, because theirs eschews all that the writer must stand for-justice and ultimate freedom of expression, which are antithetical to power. To do so is to engage in the censorship of systems and society. Be outside all of those.

The writer, whether overt and consciously, or intuitively and purposefully, is by definition subversive. Anything less is a betrayal or worse, a capitulation. Dervish and Death was, in part a postscript regarding his brother’s execution while they were both partisans during the Second World War. The Fortress, while set during the Ottoman Occupation, was an indictment of life during the post-war Communist period. each writer must find their own period and speak real and eternal human truths. It is far less about being partisan; liking this administration, hating that one. The test and filter must me how it exalts that which binds every soul regardless of race, national origin, religion and politics, though those are certainty ample stagecraft and kindling for the pyre of light and passion and love upon which your story is crafted.

This, by the way, is what I think of while walking the dog, and as an outsider, I am always happy for his feedback…

Prayers for Bowie. Sucks to be a Squirrel in Heaven…

Oh, sorry, I’m talking about the dog, not the pop star. My bad. Still, I wanted to relate a conversation yesterday with my friend, Joe, who after 13 years lost his companion and beloved pet, Bowie. Understandably, and properly, Joe was grieving. He had made a heart-breaking decision most pet owners must make. With emotion in his voice Joe found solace that Bowie was someplace better now, chasing squirrels for eternity. I’ve said the same thing about pet cats, wishing they were someplace where they could chase birds and mice to their hearts content. That got me to thinking.

It must suck being a squirrel in that other place. It finally gets a chance to chill with an endless bowl of acorns, and here comes all these freakin’ dogs, spoiling eternity. Heaven for cats, hell for mice. Valhalla for hyena’s, torture for, for…whatever it is that hyenas eat. As for the roadrunner and coyote, forever must truly be frustrating and exhausting!

Of course, if we extrapolate that in another direction, when it comes to all of the bullies I faced in high school, god, I am so screwed. I can’t take a forever full of swirlies, when what I was hoping for was an eternity with a perfect and eternally cold beer, my wife sitting beside me without being on Facebook or Pinterest or emailing work on her phone for a change. I hope to hell(see what I did there) eternity is not about hunter and prey. Instead, I think I’d prefer it to be, at least for Bowie, an endless chew toy, an unending string of butts to sniff and a pair of testicles that always tastes like bacon. That is my prayer for Bowie, and the squirrels too…

Much love, Joe.

Travels in Tuscany: Happy Hour, Tuscan style

The single best bit of advice I can offer for truly enjoying Tuscany is that you’ve got to know someone. A friend will open the door to an Italian world normally unseen to the average visitor. If you don’t have a friend, this would be the time to dust off those social skills, practice that smile, appear a little-but not too-sympathetic and make a friend. Not as hard as people think. I’ve done very well by that gift-of-gab Ana says I get from my father. For Americans it can be a fairly big hurdle to get over, given our culturally imbued suspicion about other people and cultures. In the States we are bombarded with terrifying tales of pickpockets and thieves, terrorism and all manner of criminal masterminds out to victimize wayward Americans. The truth is, in every country, the vast majority of folks are decent and honest and as curious and hospitable towards you as you would be to them-how you answer that question will mean a lot for your international travel experience.

Rick Steeves I think has done the greatest dis-service to travelers with constant warnings over thieves and crimes in his books and videos. Truth is, Europe, and most of the world is far less dangerous than most of the US. It comes down to a simple rule; If you have your head up your ass, church can be a dangerous place.

So, as I was saying, Ana and I had spent a couple days wandering around Venice. Well off the beaten paths we were curious over folks gathered at these little bars-not like American bars, but sort of cafes that serve wine, beer and cocktails and something to eat. Neighbors and friends would gather at these dark-wooded bars, snacking at small plates of appetizers or finger sandwiches, having a drink and chatting up the afternoon. We passed curiously, unsure just how that all worked, settling at cafes where we could more familiarly be waited on at a table, as we are accustomed.

For a friend anywhere, but particularly in Tuscany we could hardly have done better than Shevko. In Mostar, barely 18 years old he knew everyone and everyone know Shev. How could anyone imagine that 8 or so years in Italy that anything would change? Leaving the hotel that first night in Caprai, we headed back across the river into Montelupo Fiorentino to his favorite bar, the Cafe Centofiori, comfortable hidden from view in one of the new apartment blocks along the bright and spacious Viale Cento Fiori.

We followed Shevko inside, like a court to some blue-collar King, leaving the afternoon heat behind. Instantly, amid Shev’s riotous entrance, greeting friends, flirting with counter girls, Ana and I were engulfed by the smells of humbly prepared gourmet sandwiches and snacks. Our would-be sovereign directed us to a corner table and returned to the bar, laden with platters of mouth-watering food. Returning a moment later with fat goblets of a local red wine and a plate of food, Shev proceeded to pronounce the obvious, that everyone knew him there. Indeed, all that was missing was everyone shouting “Shev!” when he enter, ala Norm from Cheers.

“Sort of Italian, how do have in the US, happy hour,” he said. Shev explained that the food was free for the taking if you were having a drink. Most folks would congregate at the counter, catching up with old friends or chatting the owner up. He was a young guy, who, I was told worked the counter dawn until late into the night 6 days  week. Helped by a couple of counter girls, all the pastries and sandwiches were his own recipe, hand-made there in the café. Nothing went to waste. Whatever was left from the day was  cut up for the afternoon crowd.

Taking in the crowd, smiling and stumbling through Italian introductions Ana and I savored every bite as if our lives depended on the fresh and simple flavors before us. Lifting a thin wedge on homemade Italian bread, adorned with a bit of prosciutto and  fresh mint leaf, sitting with friends and Ana with a lusciously dry glass of red wine,  I wondered how it could get any better than this. 

BRIDGE ON THE DRINA: A Postscript(edited)

In 1961, Yugoslav writer Ivo Andric received the Nobel Prize for his most famous novel, “The bridge on the Drina”, which tells the story of the Visegrad Bridge spanning the Drina River through the centuries. The work, which leaves off at the beginning of the First World War has transcended war and division these latest tumultuous decades. The book was the first piece of literature I consumed before visiting the fractured nation beginning in 1993. This postscript continues the saga, with ultimate homage going to the author and with love and respect for all those I have come to know, love and cherish across the Balkans. This was been a piece in the making for sometime, the recent tragedy across the Balkans has only made this moment all the more fitting.

Adnan Spahic stood on the spot where Hodja had died. Yes, he was certain this was the place. His father had told him it had happened here. The story was legend and kept him awake considering, even as a boy, the finite nature of his own existence. That lesson had carried him through those dark days when the Vezir’s bridge had become a parable for the cruelty rendered in war by men. The story of old Hodja, his final days counted in dramatic description time and again in his father’s words, had blossomed in proportion to Adnan’s young imagination. It remained there now as a cherished treasure for Adnan the man. It concealed the scars still and perhaps forever too painful to confront without dissolving to bitterness and tears, where he might then run away among the ancient stones of the bridge.

Alas, the bridge had suffered the ravages of history since the passing of Alihodja. Nothing in the world is without end. General Putnik’s Serbian mud had seen to The Austrian hordes, and Adnan’s own grandfather had watched as a boy as Nazi divisions descended towards the bridge on their way to Sarajevo; waving as they neared and pissing in their wake. Those terrible years of World War had seen three spans destroyed of the bridge, only to be restored at last to the original builder’s exacting standards.

It was raining. It had rained forever it seemed. The clouds were fat and full, sweeping low over the valley, tearing themselves from the blue-green mountains and hills westward towards Sarajevo. The whisper of the cold rain was lost to the roar of the river rushing through the great masonry arches, thundering such that he could feel the bridge tremble beneath his feet. The umber waters boiled and drove unstoppable among the arches. Not since the great flood of 1896 had the waters of the Drina ever come this high where they threatened to spill over the high banks and into the town or even accomplish what two world wars and the last could not and sweep away the bridge.

It was a scene repeated across all of Bosnia, the product of a fevered world. In Sarajevo the Miljacka ran unstoppable through the town, inundating Illidza and threatening Bascarsija for the first time in nearly two centuries. Maglaj, on the river Bosna had to be evacuated by the Army. Zenica was in peril and Mostar strained at a burgeoning Neretva. But fevers, Adnan knew served a purpose, purging the body of toxins and invaders. He turned slowly, comprehending the magnificence of the world and his own miniscule nature.

Adnan was a doctor by profession and a pediatrician by practice. Something in that vocation reaffirmed a belief in the hope and possibility of humanity. Each new wail, as the child emerged fresh and innocent from its mother’s womb, felt to Adnan a new beginning to the world and his own tattered heart.

A lone figure approached from the Serbia side of the river. The man was tall and thin, his dark figure narrowed in the funnel of a long black raincoat. His hands were tucked deep in the pockets of the coat. A thin white leash strained from the right pocket with a golden terrier at the end; sniffing along the low bridge wall in a gadabout sort of fashion.

There was something about the man that Adnan recognized, and which rendered him cold for a moment. Not in a fearful fashion, necessarily, but that which threatened to release a flood of long buried memories with all the tumult and catastrophe of the river. Perhaps it was the character of a slight limp, softened by the years and deepened by age.

Not that the years had been a great deal kinder to Adnan. In moments he might recall the face of the boy before the war and all that was to follow. That boy could afford to squander the eternal energy necessary to the vigorous obstinate of an arrogant youth. In the mirror, that chiseled and glowing pale face was replaced with taunt cheekbones and darkened eyes. The boy’s lips had thinned, the flesh carved and weathered. The image, and all that befell the boy in the ensuing years, evolved an awakening realization of mortality more as spouse than adversary. The hair that fell reddish brown across youthful shoulders was now thinning. It was trimmed and held the hue of unpolished pewter. His feet and hands now ached constantly, and Adnan wondered just when his thumb lost the ability to turn a page without first being wetted!

The stranger drew nearer. It was not a deliberate intention, though something about it felt to Adnan as fateful. Adnan’s sense was that they had somehow met before. He couldn’t be sure, and for now it remained hidden behind the steel wall around a place in his mind that he had attempted to seal off forever.

The stranger stopped beside the wall a few yards from Adnan. Now and again the man snuck furtive lingering looks in Adnan’s direction. He too had a strong sense of recognition, and like Adnan it appeared to cause him some distress. Still, the man nodded politely enough, then turned his attention to the dog scratching at something near his feet. The tension built, however, until it was too much for Adnan to bear any longer.

He drew a pack of Drina cigarettes from his coat pocket. They weren’t Adnan’s favorite, but were affordable enough. The thin cellophane covering the white, red and blue packaging crinkled it as he opened the top further with his fingers before, with a snap of the wrist, pushing a cigarette to the top. Adnan plucked it from the pack with his lips, while his left hand fished for a small silver lighter in his trouser pocket. He lit the cigarette and dutifully held the pack towards the stranger in offering.

“Cigarette, mate?” said Adnan, drawing the man’s attention.

Tugging gently on the leash, the man bridged the gap between them in a few shuffling steps.

Just up the river, a moment of blue sky and sunlight surprised the valley, sweeping silent down sodden slopes and across the churning rain-fattened waters. The moment was serenely poetic. Its occurrence remained to both men in stark contrast to villages swept away by crumbling mountain slides, or those fleeing to tents in the hills above Zenica.

The stranger stretched and pulled a cigarette from the pack, holding it up in his fingers with an appreciative nod. Adnan moved closer, lighting the man’s cigarette. The stranger gently cupped his hands around Adnan’s, puffing out a cloud of white tobacco smoke that was quickly swept away by the wind.

“Thank you,” said the stranger, straightening.

There was something in the stranger’s voice that unleashed a torrent of emotions, as tumultuous and chaotic as the river thundering against the bridge. They came through him with a cascade of emotions so powerful they almost robbed the breath from his lungs. Both men now stood nearly shoulder to shoulder looking out across the river.

“I think that Visegrad has seen the worst already,” said the stranger.

“I don’t know,” said Adnan, taking a darker view.

“They say ten thousand are fleeing Bijeljina. Serbia is sending help. And Croatia as well,” he added almost out of some forced obligation.

“And who helps Bosnia?” Adnan posed, with a mix of fatalism and accusation that the stranger wisely ignored. Adnan conceded the moment. “The newspaper said a special fund for flood protection is missing.”

The stranger nodded knowingly. “When will we learn, eh? Maybe all those rabble-rousers in Tuzla were right all along.”

“I’m not so certain burning down government buildings ever accomplishes anything.”

“Ah, but you must admit when mothers blockaded parliament in Sarajevo with baby carriages, that was really something.”

“Yes, something,” said Adnan.

“We could learn a thing or two from you Bosnians in Belgrade.”

Adnan smiled to himself. He studied the cigarette burning away in his fingers. Images and memories came stronger now. In flashed Adnan relived the terror and panic of a warm June morning slightly more than two decades earlier. Adnan felt that oppressive weight of an unfolding crime once more, heard the gunfire and screams. There was a face in a doorway, crutches and a saving nod.

On the Bosnian side of the river, as if to punctuate the bitter resignation of Adnan’s words, the clouds burst suddenly. Sheets of blue-gray rain briefly erased the nearby hills and distant mountains. The stranger looked at Adnan for a long uncomfortable moment.

“You don’t remember me, do you?” the man asked.

Adnan studied the man’s eyes a moment, looking for a way to escape the issue. Instead he looked back over the river and gave a deep breath.

“You still have a problem with you leg.”

“Hardly noticeable anymore,” the stranger paused. “I always wondered if you made it.” His voice lowered and softened. “Dark days.”

“I don’t prefer to revisit them,” Adnan replied, without taking his gaze from the river, “But I remember what you did.”

There were volumes that passed between the men, and volumes they might have said to one another. But there was nothing that needed to be said. They had, like the land and the nation shared a history, but history is a perspective and not entirely compatible between hearts. For now what resolutions, what questions lingered from those dark days found sufficient satisfaction and perspective in this happenstance. The stranger found more discomfort in the resulting silence than Adnan, who defended it as a bulwark.

“I am in the same place,” said the stranger, nodding to the Serbian side, and the town blanketing the hillside there. “You will come sometime for coffee. Perhaps we can put the past behind us, eh? Talk of better days?”

“History is indeed a perspective,” thought Adnan.

It was not so simple for him to sweep aside the past. He had lost too much. Some scars cut too deep.

From the hills on that June morn he’d watched friends and his family murdered and thrown from the bridge over differences in how one comes to god.

“I think maybe, yes,” replied Adnan without any real conviction.

With that the two men shook hands. It was a firm and satisfying shake that the stranger took heart in. With a respectful nod the stranger turned and started for home.

It’s a nice dog,” Adnan called out.

“I’ll see you,” the stranger replied and continued on his way.

Adnan watched until the man was nearly to the far side of the bridge when he at last turned for the Bosnian side. It had begun to drizzle once more. The air was colder now against his cheeks and ears. On a rise above the bridge he paused to look back. The stranger was just climbing into the town, favoring his limp a bit more than before. In a moment he was gone, disappeared among the shops and houses.

The gulf between the two sides of the bridge seemed immense. Once it had seemed a greater and even impossible void. After pondering that a moment Adnan turned and continued up the hill to where he’d parked his automobile. The river was louder here, drawing in a crescendo of sounds from all along the valley.

Adnan’s step felt lighter now. Those seemingly meaningless hospitalities with the stranger had unchained the iron gate around his heart. Opening it, after all that had occurred, solidified by the cement of grief and distance, would be the harder task. Time was the only possible elixir for rapprochement, and Adnan was not certain there had been or ever could be sufficient time. Still, he could not deny the saving power of the thought.

“Maybe,” he said aloud, without realizing.

Adnan paused once more, this time pondering the trip across the river with intention. The bone-white arch and spans stretched like a beacon, beckoning him. Through those arched expanses the churning brown waters of the Drina continued unabated, rampaging south through the valley. For the first time Adnan Spahic saw the bridge for its true self. It was indeed a relic, a cosmetic span between the assumptions of east and west, of the Muslim and Christian world. And all at once, against the majesty and power of the land, all of those pretenses fell away as mere costumes of history. Even the bridge took its true place as something so infinitesimally small and fleeting. It was an accoutrement to the one true religion of a fractured people.

That religion was the land. That religion was always the land. It was always the land, the only true enemy, and the ultimate salvation.

The revelation almost made Adnan cry out. There was a moment now he considered turning back and crossing that bridge. Adnan would find his way to the stranger’s door and have that coffee and begin the work that must be done between hearts and souls. He might have but a sudden swell in the river washed heavily across the road at the far side of the river. The rain came harder now, driven by a stiffening wind forcing a retreat to the automobile. In an hour Adnan would be back in Sarajevo. Soon, he told himself, soon he would return and have that coffee.

WC Turck is the author of 4 books, including the critically acclaimed Bosnian War Memoir “Everything for Love,” and Broken: One soldier’s unexpected journey home, at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. Turck wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart: A Revolutionary Christmas Carol” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.”

Not your Mother’s Hallmark card

Mother’s Day. If you are looking for a sickly- sweet, once a year, guilt laden sap about moms and motherhood, sorry to disappoint. Hallmark card this ain’t. Call me a cynic, but the emotional hostage taking of the week before mother’s day is more a means of separating you from your money for flowers that will end up in the trash come Wednesday, chocolates she may never eat and an uncomfortably obligatory dinner at Olive Garden or Baker’s Square. There will be the annual, “My mom is the best” posts, with lots of emoticons and gratuitous “likes” from friends. All rather like salt statues in a rainstorm.

WXRT here in Chicago, long a progressive Rock station for decades, now panders to its baby-boomer demographic by featuring songs with “mom” in them; as if anything could describe the tombstone over the grave of Rock and Roll more fully.

Truth is, for most of us our relationships with our mothers is hardly that saccharin ideal portrayed in commercials with the “you only get one Mom,” tagline. “Don’t forget to remember her this Mother’s Day.” Oh. and by remembering, we mean, buy some of the schlock crap piled next to the register. So while you’re standing here in line, cradling toilet paper, a 6-pack of Hamms Beer and a $3 Dollar frozen pizza, buy something for mom, you ungrateful bastard.

Now that Oprah is gone, who will remind us that being a mother is “the hardest job in the world!” Anyone read “A Handmaid’s tale”?

Truth is, and I’ll speak for myself, though I know it is true for the majority, I don’t have a mom straight out of a Lifetime Movie whose fault is just being a little too wonderful and perfect. My mother and I have had a contentious and often argumentative relationship my entire life. She isn’t the “World’s best” mother, because who the hell even knows what that means? Well if my mom is the world’s best, what are you doing with a world’s best mom card?

She has aggravated me a lot over the years. I mean epic aggravation, here. I can say with absolute certainty that when I was a kid, there were times when I hated her. Even now, I scathe when I feel I don’t meet her standards, or she favors one of my other two brothers over me, or despite my best efforts, I don’t feel validated enough, or the response from her doesn’t soot my ego. And now and again, feeling frustrated with her, I contemplate getting back by not calling her anymore; walking away for good.

But then I find myself reaching for the phone, despite all that, and despite all of the heartache, disappointment and friction-even downright war, at times- the sound of her voice rescues me as well. We live in a society now in which everything is qualified and quantified, either through religion or science. Both miss the mark in the end. This isn’t about bonding to the prenatal sound of a mother’s voice, or the godliness of Mother and baby Jesus. My mother is not Mary and I sure as hell am no Jesus. I mean, Christ!

What I do find more and more each year is how much of her I carry with me, both scars and lessons. All hold equal value. She instilled in me a passion for learning, and a supreme appreciation for literature. After two wars, hundreds of protests and marches, hundreds of thousands of miles travelled to two dozen countries, I am agreeable when I must be and obstinate when I need to be. She instilled in me the ability to see through the eyes of others, but never to retreat from injustice, especially injustice heaped upon others. As for blistering, sometimes screaming arguments, those battles served me well in debates with politicians, personalities like Bill Ayers, and many others during a brief flirtation with media. Arguing in a circle (while getting me in trouble with the wife occasionally) so frustrated a Chicago judge and attorney that I skated on a ticket once.

The truth is, we might well have the mother of all arguments (Pun intended) tomorrow and I might consider walking away for good, but separation? That’s quite impossible, since she is so woven fully into the fabric of my being that it would be akin to losing a vital organ. I remember damn near every screaming, red-faced argument that left me so affected I wanted to smash something, but I remember the joy when she introduced me to classical music, in particular the “Grand Canyon Suite.” When she attempted to teach three precocious boys how to two-step in our living room of our little house in Romeoville, and how every single birthday it was important to make my favorite dish, Shepherd’s Pie. There were hikes of discovery in the woods, at Bluff Road and the Little Red School House. And when I came home quite obviously drunk in high school and then pretended to accept the toilet bowl confession that I had eaten bad tuna salad at the party as I heaved my guts out. The next morning, after cleaning up my mess without so much as a word, she could see without a word that I was learning a painful lesson.

And when I returned from war, the tears of joy in her eyes, and the way she embraced me. I carry all of that. The vacation to Iron Mountain Wisconsin, the picnics, the Christmases, the regular trips to museums and zoos. How in that working class household, living all those years from paycheck to paycheck, that I never wanted for anything except my own autonomy, which is where much of  that inherent friction arose. If I am honest, for better and for worse, whether here or somewhere else, she is very definitely a part of me, despite the anguish and battles bound sometimes to occur, it is a part I shall always cherish…

Note: For father’s day I am simply recycling the same article…except for that prenatal part, which would be weird.

Ponder, Writers.

The world intrudes. The author laments. It forces and insinuates itself, but nothing interferes so much in the modern world like the internet. In truth it is a blessing and curse, to use a cliché. A writer is nothing without the power of A.D.D. The writer is a funnel, drawn to every detail, every revelation on the human spirit and the fate of the universe. The author ponders that fate of everything, only to abandon it for  a lover, the bend of an arm, the shape of a buttocks, the curve of a breast or the suppleness of a thigh. Make no mistake, writers, it was the internet, like a proverbial whore, which offered you the world to pour your soul as never before, but stole your readers to banality and headlines. there is, however, salvation in solitude, in wresting back the hours to ponder and solve each of life’s greatest questions via a crafted narrative or a character in a story. the world as never before, strives to rob the world of the ponderer, but it was the ponderer who unveiled the soul, dragging it from the claws of religion and the morality junkies into the light where it might be dissected and laid bare. That, that is the domain, the high fortress needed to be defended by the writer. Steal back that time. Be selfish. be not a journalist. Journalists write for the moment. You write for eternity. Be…be a writer, with all the romance, perversion, all the belligerence and piety of someone endeavoring to uncover ultimate truths and then flings them like hot coals and icy cold water into the faces of passionless humanity. You are passion. You are protest. You are question…

The Community of Theatre

The Community of Theatre

I write books. I have 5 in print, and more than 7 others written and awaiting publishing. Writing is perhaps the loneliest profession. When I was an artist, often I had a model there. The same cannot be said for the art and labor(not craft) of writing a book. It is long hours of contemplation, research, writing, endless rewriting and editing. The book goes out. Though I hear from readers, there is no immediate feedback.

this month and next month my latest play, “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden” runs at the Oil Lamp Theatre in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. many of those who attend are regular patrons to the theatre. All theatre, I should note, is not the same.

My education in theatre literally comes from the streets. My first play, “Occupy my Heart, A Revolutionary Christmas Carol,” spawned a radio program, saw standing room only audiences, saw numerous interviews, including a segment on Thom Hartman’s radio show, received national attention and helped for a time to change the media narrative about the Occupy movement. It was interactive, organic and communal. several of the actors and my director, a brilliant young woman named Hannah Freidman, were students of a style of theatre called “Theatre of the Oppressed, which, in a very basic sense, sought to erase or assail the barriers between audience and stage.

At the end of each Friday and Sunday matinee performance I join the cast on stage for a talk back with the audience. This past Sunday a woman who attends more formal and traditional theatre found the interaction with the audience refreshing and interesting. Though she had attended theatre many times, she said, this was the first time she’d experienced a break in that traditional barrier. Maybe. Often many programs will flirt with that barrier, but most often that barrier remains sacrosanct. That is not a criticism, only a statement on style and context. I told her how I loved breaking that barrier, and how it made the program more of a community rather than another form of TV or movies.

At one point in the play, the characters solicit questions to “Snowden” and “The NSA”, which the actors answer unscripted. Indeed, the onstage battle between Snowden and my NSA Agent becomes a bit of a competition for the sentiments of the audience. That is the power of theatre. It is community, and should be, and it is immediate unlike any other sort of art form, whether one applauds or gets up and walks out…