My stage text MERDE! performed on Governor's Island at Dysfunctional Theatre Collective's house
An Interview with Julia Lee Barclay-Morton
Indie Theater Now asked Julia Lee Barclay-Morton 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 evolved when I was suffering severe anxiety I could not shake after the terrorist attack in Brussels earlier this year, and my friend Adam McGovern suggested I write. The attack resonated with my experience living in other cities during violent events, such as London on 7/7/05 and NYC on 9/11/01 and also - though natural - the SF earthquake in 1989. I began to realize all these events had cumulatively affected me more deeply than I even realized and reverberated with past more personal trauma as well. So this is about violent events - private and public, natural and human-made - how they intersect, their causes, and how they show us our mortality, our fragility and our total lack of control over a huge part of our lives, which is of course a heretical thought in the Western developed world.
Why is this issue/these issues important to you? Why should it be important to the audience?
This issue is important to me because the causes of violence, overt and systemic, are things we rarely examine. We see the aftermath of these events and mourn the victims or the fact they occurred, but we rarely consider the cause. Conversely, private violence is usually not witness or mourned and rarely acknowledged. This private violence disproportionately affects women and children, who are generally the least believed. This kind of violence, the effects of it, needs witness in order to heal.
Can a play actually bring about social change? How?
I have no idea. But I think ignoring these issues means no change is possible. At the very least we acknowledge our deeper wounds, and in so doing, perhaps we heal. Maybe we don't, but it's worth trying.
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?
James Baldwin. I would want him to remind us all of our interconnectedness, and how the perpetrator of crimes suffers as much as the victims. That we cannot act violently (overtly or covertly) against a whole group of people or nation without expecting consequences. But when we get into the cycle of hate and violence, we all are dying. But he'd say it way better than that. Another person would be Judith Herman who wrote about trauma and recovery and the connection between war and domestic violence, that the PTSD suffered by victims of both (including vets) is the same, though one is acknowledged publicly and the other isn't. But how all people who have been truly hurt are made to feel ashamed for this vulnerability, and this shame needs to be overcome to truly heal.
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?
All of this. If you can't do all of this, what's the point? I of course have a weird relationship with the word 'story' because it implies a certain kind of narrative that I don't work with generally, but to tell what is authentic as in raw as in unadulterated and not tied into a traditional story frame, which to my mind obscures the reality of experience, yes.
posted September 10, 2016
Julia Lee Barclay-Morton