The Clown Archive

This is me performing my play at the Figment Festival. I don't usually use a microphone, I kinda felt like Jerry Springer.

This is me performing my play at the Figment Festival. I don’t usually use a microphone– I kinda felt like Jerry Springer.

This weekend (9/28–9/29) I performed my play A CLOWN, A HAMMER, A BOMB AND GOD at the Figment Festival in Washington DC. For those of you who don’t know, the play is based on the actions of one Father Carl Kabat. On Good Friday 1994 (which fell on April Fool’s day), Kabat dressed in a clown suit, broke into a Minuteman III Missile base in North Dakota, and disabled a missile by hammering the silo door shut (the missiles are in deep silos placed under huge steel and concrete silo doors designed to keep them working if the bases are themselves attacked with nuclear weapons).

A lot has been written and said about the play since Ben Roberts first performed it in 1997 at the New York Fringe festival. If you want to know about the play, here are some links.

Ben performed a shortened version of the play on Democracy Now on Christmas Eve 1997.

We went to the Hague as part of the Hague Appeal for Peace in 1999. The trip was paid for by the folks at the Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy. Here’s an interview Ben did with a Bahai Arts group.

On July 4 2000, Ben performed in Washington DC at Lafayette Park. It was hot.

The play is featured in a story about Kabat’s arrest for a Plowshares action in Colorado.

I performed the play publicly on Good Friday 2012 at Union Square Park.

I’m mentioned in a college textbook, Art After the Bomb.

I performed last year as part of the Brooklyn For Peace event held in the SUBO building at Brooklyn College.


(I’m sure I’ve missed something–Hello, Hendricks School!–so if we’ve forgotten something, just put a note in the comments box).

Here are two events not listed anywhere, and I’d like to point them out. My old church was WASHINGTON SQUARE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH and they generously supported my work there. On the Sunday before the US attacked Iraq in March of 2003, we hosted THAW (Theaters Against War) at our church and we performed the play that day.

And the performance I most enjoyed–in March of 2000, we went to Maryland and Ben performed the play in the park outside of the court in Towson where Phil Berrigan, Stephen Kelly, Susan Crane and Elizabeth Walz were being tried for disabling an A10 ‘Warthog’ aircraft (the Plowshares Vs Depleted Uranium).

The play is activism–it’s about taking action when living in a world where war seems to drive so much of our activity. And it is about the conflict between faith and living in a world with dangers. How do you parse what counts as safety? Does our safety depend on our missiles, our false ‘gods of metal’ that don’t really protect us?

As always, I am available for pot-luck suppers, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs. I will do childrens’ parties, but after they hear the stories about Hiroshima, they usually start crying and probably won’t care whether I can make balloon animals.

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