ObamAmerica- A month and a half to go till opening night! Thoughts about politics and theatre
It's the 1 May and we've hit a milestone with our Kickstarter fundraising campaign- £2,000! We are 2/3 funded and I am just overwhelmed by the generosity of friends, family, friends of friends, and complete strangers! Of course panic sets in that we have only eleven days to raise £1,000 but persistence and cheerfulness seem to work wonders.
We had a busy weekend holding castings for most of the fourteen plays, with predominantly North American actors coming to read for us. It is fantastic that there is such a talented group of expats here. It was a real delight to meet so many new faces, either people who have not been in the UK long or I've just never come across them. Directors are putting out offers to actors as we speak. Meantime I'm still mulling, trying to decide who suits which part and how to balance a cast. It is never a task I take lightly- casting is half the battle to directing a winning production!
So, politics and theatre: I have been thinking about this a lot recently as my efforts to spread the word far and wide about ObamAmerica and the Kickstarter campaign have led me to posting on all kinds of Facebook groups, including one for expat Americans. I innocently put in a notice and expected more nice comments and likes as I had initially received. Instead one individual berated me in no uncertain terms for backing such a "stupid president". I tried to explain that we are a theatre group, not a political organisation and take a fair and balanced view on the president as we had such a wide variety of opinions from the playwrights. He didn't stop there, he went on to be even more hateful, criticizing me personally and saying we needed a legitimate political organisation to take down this idiotic president. He didn't give me any reasons why he hated Obama so much, he just decided I was biased. Needless to say, he was so nasty I had to block him. But it led me to think, perhaps I am biased. As I have stated everywhere, we view Obama through rose-tinted glasses in the UK and part of my mission was to find out what Americans really think of him. Of course the haters will never take the time to understand this, but I want to do theatre that is important, that makes people think, that might even change their minds. The plays that we have chosen to include in the festival are intelligent plays and the playwrights thoughtfully express their stories which range from very politically charged to highly personal. But under the banner of ObamAmerica is it all political? Reflection Day by Chuck Cummings is about an elderly African-American woman with dementia in a care home who keeps insisting she needs to go vote. But it is also about the relationship between her and her young male carer. They Float Up by Jacquelyn Reingold is about a fortyish white woman in New Orleans looking for a job in a topless bar. She encounters a serious young African American construction worker who tells her “A guy goes into a titty bar he don’t want to see his mama. Or his mama’s titties. That ain’t what he wants to see.” He then proceeds to tell her about all the economic and social problems New Orleans is still experiencing five years after Hurricane Katrina. Personal, political or both? We chose plays that made us react, that moved us, surprised us, made us think. You’ll have to come see for yourself to judge!So, why Zach Galfianakis? He interviewed President Obama on his web series Between the Ferns and I haven’t laughed so hard in ages. Obama was pretty darn funny too. Maybe he has a future as a comedian if the whole president thing doesn’t work out. We didn’t invite Obama to come audition for us as he just didn’t suit any of the roles but I’m sure we can find something for him in the future. Have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnW3xkHxIEQ