Tonight's entertainment was a production of Euripides' The Bacchae. I had a hard time with it; I was sort of tired and this sort of thing really requires concentration to overcome the cultural gulf between ancient Greek society and here-now. Monologues, a staple of this kind of theatre, are also tricky on the best of days, although I really can't complain too much about the delivery (other than that it was a little overdone at times). Not having read or seen the play before, I can't be sure, but I suspect the translation could've been a bit better, more colloquial, too.
There were a lot of little things that I liked. The scene was set with a little table/altar at the back of the stage platform, with some bowls and cups and a bunch of grapes on it. For reasons I can't really pin down, I found this almost trivially simple set-prop work to be really effective. The lighting was also relatively simple but effective: the whole stage area would be bathed in blue and then switch to neutral-white, or vice versa, or the white light might switch to a warmer, more incandescent yellowish glow at a scene change or mystical event, and really make you sit up and take notice. The scream of agony as Agave (Abby Harms) came to her senses was truly inspired.
Overall, I can't say I was thrilled, though. I certainly didn't think of it as wasted time or anything, but I don't know that I'd do it again if I had a do-over. I suppose I'm outing myself as a philistine again, but this kind of theatre really isn't my cup of tea. On the other hand, it might be just the sort of thing you'd like, if you like that sort of thing.
"How can I have a nine year old? I'm only 25, and have been for twelve years." --Leigh Anne Wilson
In church today, during the announcements we were exhorted to participate in the Life Chain this afternoon, an event where a lot of folks stand around and hold up "pro-life", i.e. anti-abortion, signs around the public square. Once, St. Pat's had a strong representation at this, but our numbers had dwindled; and thus the exhortation: "Where's the outrage, people?"
It was pointed out that there was a lot of outrage floating around over Michael Vick and the dogs, but that this was about 4,000 children being killed every day. Here's the thing, though: the outrage at the dogfighting is directed at a person, Michael Vick, who is judged to be a bad person for his actions. When you try to build some sort of outrage over abortion, though, you get a little stuck if you try to make it personal: as soon as you bring an actual woman—or girl—into the equation, pregnant and "in trouble", it seems difficult to sustain the personal outrage. Especially when the other half of the message is, purportedly, that We Welcome You And Will Help You Out. What are we getting outraged at, again?
Well, here's something to get a little outraged about: agitating for laws against abortion does nothing to resolve the underlying social justice issues. Even if these groups succeeded at making abortion illegal—which wouldn't stop it from happening, mind you—the people who feel cornered enough to be seeking an abortion in the first place are simply left hanging. For the most part, they're resorting to abortion because they think they don't have any other options, which may be an incorrect perception, but you better believe they're not coming to you to talk about it after all of this.
Here's another: Planned Parenthood has done far, far, far more to decrease the demand for abortion than any of these Life Chains ever did. No pregnant girl walks out of a PP clinic without knowing all her options, honestly evaluated—a bit of scruple that I suspect most illegal abortionists would lack, and that I know most "pro-life" activists lack—and a fair sight less get pregnant in the first place, because PP has gone to the trouble of educating them on their reproductive systems and giving them access to birth control. This is the responsibility of both the parents and the schools, but both groups are abdicating in droves... often at the instigation of various religious institutions.
Which brings me to another thing one could get outraged about. For all the rhetoric about the sanctity of life and the dignity of all humans and all that—and some institutions don't even bother with that much—there remains this bizarre disconnect when it comes to birth control.* That is, in the course of arguing that all couples should welcome new life, and therefore should not want to use birth control, these people forget that some people are not yet on board with this program, do not welcome new life, and are having sex anyway. These people should perhaps not want to use birth control, but the entirety of their situation rather indicates that they should use birth control. Anyone who glibly responds that they should just be abstaining from sex is complicit in the conversion of new life from "something to be welcomed" to "punishment for having sex". By hollowly prescribing and proscribing actions without first ensuring that the actions follow from a consistent belief system, these deeply misguided "pro-life" activists do far more to engender some of the very social ills they claim to be protesting against.
So, that's where the outrage is. I'll be skipping the Life Chain.
*Many outside the religious establishments claim this is all about power and misogyny. While that's undoubtedly true in some cases, I don't think it's universally so—I'm convinced that some people really do genuinely hold these beliefs, and that it really is a weird disconnect, rather than a more active case of rationalising a prejudice.
"Since we're still on our first round of batteries, we weren't sure what this meant in terms of recording time. The unit is rated to run 18 hours, but nobody who works with electronics takes these sorts of ratings as anything other than gentle fun, a brief diversion from the world of hard facts." --Shriram Krishnamurthi