Just posted the video of my performance on March 18 as part of the Occupy the Empty Space event at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village. The play, How to stop the Empire while keeping your Day Job, has had some 9,000 views on Youtube as I write this. I’ve performed it ten times since March, and i will be performing at the Yippie Museum Cafe on June 29 at 7:30 PM.
The play’s genesis was not especially straightforward. In 2004 I was appalled that neither presidential candidate was willing to admit that the Iraq war was a clusterf*ck that we needed to leave quickly. John Kerry’s best promise was that he’d fight it ‘better’, whatever that means. As someone who remembers the Winter Soldier movement, I was pretty certain that Kerry knew better but was being advised by the DLC clowns to go easy on criticism of this war. I looked over the portfolio of my writing, and nothing seemed to address the issue. So I put together a short monologue called How to Fight the Revolution while keeping your day job. It was far more focused on war spending and the politics of that time. I performed it a few times in 2005 and 2006, but no one seemed interested in it. The title especially seemed to put people off.
I started reconsidering the play after the Occupy movement started taking over Zuccotti Park.There was new energy in the air, and the idea that the US was an empire was no longer anathema to people. I did a serious rewrite in October of 2011 and I performed the current version of the play for the first time at an Occupy Brooklyn protest. The stories in the play are largely true, but they didn’t all happen to me (as of today I have not done federal time).
So now you know.
I tour this play. If you want me to come someplace and yell at you for 35 minutes, you can contact me.
Your play actually comes off as a talk — so as one of your 9,000 viewing members, I am shocked to find out it is really a play — you mean the bit about you being sent to federal prison for 5 years for graffiti at Vanderburg Air Force base is not true/ not about you? The audience swooned when you said it in your performance, then you had them in the palm of your hands, including me. Now I find out you didn’t do federal time and that the awe is “Oh.”
I am one to talk about fiction, as my book “The Reality Creators” is subtitled “A Work Of Fiction About What Is Really Going On In Our Lives,” however I have a long introduction discussing the work as fiction. Also, I have spent my career as a professionally trained theatre artist, and worked for 25 years in the business designing and producing large scale works, so I am a theatre person who’s had to wade through a lot of fiction and fact.
I believe you need to explain to your audience, clearly, that your play is not made up of your personal experiences, but is perhaps that of others mixed in with yours: attributing things you did (which you did not) can cross the line from performing to lying, and it is the audience who decides which is which, never the actor or writer — you may think you are performing, while they may think you are lying.
Christopher–one of the reasons I’m doing this blog is to clear up that question. I’ve met the individuals who’ve done the action in question (and paid with federal time for it). They desire their privacy and that’s okay by me. I’d always thought that my statement “My name is Jerry…today” puts the event in a different frame.