Director Wendy Moore: If you want the world explained to you, go to a play
February 16, 2017
IF YOU GO
Presented by Sopris Theatre Company
Feb. 17-18, 23-25, 7 p.m.; Feb. 19 and 26, 2 p.m.
Admission: $18 adults, $13 students, seniors and CMC staff and faculty
New Space Theatre at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley, 3000 County Road 114, Glenwood Springs
Information: coloradomtn.edu/theatre or 947-8177
"Sixteen Wounded" has been hanging in my heart since I first saw it a decade ago. It's contemporary in subject and themes and yet removed geographically. The play's first workshop production was in 2002, and it opened on Broadway in 2004 with Judd Hirsch and Omar Metwally in the leading roles.
Playwright Eliam Kraiem has written, "Ideally, audiences will never watch the news the same way again. My wish is that no matter how politicized people are when they come to into the theatre, they will be able to see that there's always another side to the story. With the slightest change of circumstance, any one of us could be on the other side."
In a world that seems fractured by conflict and disagreement, theater has always provided me with an avenue for healthy discussion. It is easier to see the faults of others rather than the faults in ourselves. As a cartoon caption I saw on Facebook put it, "Just because you are right, does not mean I am wrong. You just haven't seen life from my side."
By awakening empathy, theater magnifies our ability to comprehend conflicts in the lives of others. So many of today's issues "demand greater awareness but lack meaningful societal discourse due to their polarizing nature and/or historical legacies," according to the University of Wisconsin Theatre for Cultural and Social Awareness.
What has evolved is what I would call "off-road communication." There seems no road to follow in argument any more, so we head off across the nearest field, making ruts and kicking up rocks. I think there has to be a better way.
The world of "Sixteen Wounded" is centered on the Israeli and Palestinian conflict that has been going on my entire life. All 70 years of it. We meet a Holocaust survivor who helps a young Palestinian injured in a street fight. As they work side by side, we see them begin to listen and understand. Is the affection that develops between them enough for either to betray his birth? The Palestinian character, Mahmoud, says, "Because we are enemies. Because that is the way the world is."
But does it have to be?
I hope you come to see our play. Let's think together.
Wendy Moore is a freelance theatre director. While her resume includes both comedies and musicals, she has been often drawn to plays that explore the issues that divide us. "Sixteen Wounded" is such a play.