OVER HERE at the 2014 FringeNYC Festival - Produced by Mortal Folly Theatre
An Interview with Meron Langsner
Indie Theater Now asked Meron Langsner a few questions about this upcoming event.
What’s this play about (in a few sentences); and what particular current issues are you addressing in it?
This play is about an Israeli immigrant and a Palestinian-American in NYC in the summer of 2002. It is about friendship in the face of politics, and about how world events can become very personal very quickly.
Why is this issue/these issues important to you? Why should it be important to the audience?
In light of what is happening in the Middle East as we prepare for this production, I believe that the idea of humanizing those people involved in the conflict is of the utmost importance. We are being bombarded (a word I hesitate to type as rockets are being aimed at my family) with images, opinions, and outrage, in the face of which it is easy to forget that there are real people in real situations having their lives torn apart. And that on a human level, we can all connect.
Can a play actually bring about social change? How?
Yes. Indirectly and very slowly. By putting human faces and real feelings on the conflict it can lead to a more sophisticated understanding of one of the most complex and long-standing global conflicts. Once there is a human face, perhaps there will be fewer knee-jerk party line responses to the news whenever the conflict escalates, and then perhaps progress can be made. I feel that there is a strong tendency to dehumanize Israeli Jews, and completely overlook those Israelis that are not Jewish, as well as to jump to conclusions based on fundamental lack of information about the dynamics of physical violence. By making an audience focus on people (I do not want to say "people from both sides" as to try to create a binary in this conflict is reductionist and inherently false), we can process events as people, and then perhaps rethink how we absorb media about events, and then rethink what we tell our leaders, and then, in a better world, create a place where there is mutual respect and understanding. Will a play bring about a lasting peace? Unlikely. Will it help us look at people as people and not as soundbites? Hopefully.
If you could get one real person (past or present) to be the spokesperson for your play, who would you choose and why; and what would you want them to tell people about your work?
Itzhak Rabin. Because he was a leader understood that when we see each other as human beings first, all other things can come from there. I would want him to talk about the humor in the piece honestly. Because when we can laugh about dark subjects, we can think about them critically. And when we are thinking about them critically, we can work for positive change.
Which is more important to you in your playwriting, and why: to tell an authentic story, to make the audience laugh, to make the audience cry, or to make the audience think?
I believe that telling an authentic story, or rather, a good story is first and foremost and that if one succeeds in accomplishing that, the story will do the rest. I also believe that no audience cries that has not already laughed, but that's another discussion.
posted July 12, 2014