Project on Tyranny Part One: Rajiv Joseph
"We're living in an intense moment in history, and, if you're like me, you probably have moments where you feel powerless, or you wonder how you can contribute to the type of cultural shifts this world is really desperately in need of. And so tonight, we get to hang out with writers who are on the front lines of those cultural conversations." With these words, The Lark's Director of Artistic Programs Lloyd Suh opened the pilot event of our organization's new program, the Project on Tyranny. This program, which aims to put artists in direct conversation with audiences and community members to discuss the leading issues of our day, launched on January 31, 2019, with a panel featuring five playwrights in the process of developing plays that address tyranny, abuses of power, and threats to our civil liberties. Each of the playwrights spoke in turn about the topics they've taken on in their plays, and what they hope to accomplish through their writing, collectively commenting on the state of the world and the artist's role in it.
First up was Rajiv Joseph, a playwright whose past work has tackled the topic of tyranny many times, including in his plays Guards at the Taj, Describe the Night, and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo. During the panel, Rajiv spoke on the moment he felt he was given permission to write political plays such as these ones, his time in the Peace Corps and how he sees it as parallel to his artistic work, and when and why his work has, at times, felt dangerous.
Other panelists included Franky D. Gonzalez (Even Flowers Bloom in Hell, Sometimes), C.A. Johnson (All the Natalie Portmans), Tim J. Lord (On every link a heart does dangle; or Owed), and Mona Mansour (We Swim, We Talk, We Go to War). Stay tuned to The Lark's blog to catch their sections of the panel as well!