I have been steeped these past few weeks in the final throes of mounting the New York City premiere of my play, Let Me Fluff Your Pillow, which juxtaposes intimate family dynamics with a sudden, external threat beyond the control of the cast.
In a stark reminder of how life imitates art, I awakened this morning to news headlines about a partial evacuation of the US Embassy in Iraq because of rising tensions in the region: “The State Department ordered a partial evacuation of the United States Embassy in Baghdad on Wednesday, responding to what the Trump administration said was a threat linked to Iran, one that has led to an accelerated movement of American ships and bombers into the Persian Gulf.”
I was reminded of the time—long ago—when I saw the movie The China Syndrome and emerged from the theater to read the headlines about the nuclear accident that had just occurred at Three Mile Island. It was surreal.
My immediate thought on hearing this morning’s headlines was—oh, no; here we go again. And I wondered, what exactly have we learned from the long, expensive and excruciating ordeal that we’ve been through in trying to navigate escalating tension and sectarian violence in the Middle East? Have we schooled ourselves about the history, cultures and customs of those who live in the region? Are we willing to risk blundering and blustering through another crisis? And to what end?
In last night’s rehearsal, as the actors brilliantly interpreted the script in ever-more compelling ways, I was reminded of the fluidity between what is happening on the geopolitical stage and what we experience among those we hold most dear. For the vast majority, the most devastating heartaches in life are not perpetrated by global superpowers but by those who are closest to us. And yet, we cannot escape the impact on our collective psyche that comes from trying to make sense out of the world around us with its myriad forces that lie beyond our control.
Over the soggy Mother’s Day weekend (hi, Mom!), I was reading an article by James Poniewozik about the impact on audiences of the “endings” in such enduring cinematic treasures as the eight-season long Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame which marks the end to a 22-film cycle of Marvel superhero movies that began in 2008. I was struck by his remark buried deep in his text: “an ending needs to cost something to mean something.”
True in the theater, but also true in life. This principle struck me during last night’s rehearsal, as each character contemplated their personal cost as the play’s action of the play unfolds to its concluding moments. Yet, one of the tragedies of our current geopolitical reality, especially heartbreaking for veterans and their families who have borne a disproportionate burden in our current set of wars and warlike rumblings, is that the end has become so elusive. My prayer on this eve of opening night, is that we do not become ensnared in yet another Middle East morass; and simultaneously, I long for us to be attentive to be evermore caring and compassionate of those who are closest to us.
I am delighted to report that there are only a handful of tickets left for Let Me Fluff Your Pillow. If you are in the New York City area over the next week and would like to attend, click here to reserve your seat today!