Director Felicia Meyer speaks with Fort Lewis College students during rehearsal for “Speak Truth to Power” on Oct. 10.
Ariel Dorfman’s play “Speak Truth to Power: Voices from Beyond the Dark” is not subtle. Nor should it be.
This is a play about human rights. About standing up for truth. About taking a stand against violence, starvation, torture and rape.
This is an important, timely and politically relevant performance, based on the book Speak Truth to Power by Kerry Kennedy. It pits the voices of human-rights activists from around the world against the blue-suit and red-tie corporate man and woman.
Fort Lewis College adjunct professor Felicia Meyer directs a simple production and brings out the best in her 11 student actors. All of them did a fabulous job. Amelia Charter really shined in her performance, allowing her elocution to resonate the emotion.
There were moments during the production when I wondered if I was watching young people act or simply young people deeply moved and affected by the play itself. It was an appropriate response to the work. These actors are channeling the emotional stories of actual human beings. Photographs of the activists are projected larger than life on a screen center stage.
This is not a play that leaves you happy.
This is a production that makes you stop and think about standing up for what is right. That one night this week, we should turn off the television and go volunteer with a community organization (handy list provided in the playbill) or at least write a letter to government officials asking them why they are authorizing torture or suggesting to them that poor children need medical coverage.
No matter your political affiliation, the facts presented are staggering:
• 3 billion people in the world live in poverty.
• 40,000 children die each day from preventable diseases.
• The world as a whole consumes $24 trillion worth of goods and services each year.
• 1.3 billion people in the world live on incomes of less than one dollar a day.
• The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the poorest forty-eight countries.
The night I attended the performance, the house was filled with students. Many were required to attend and read the play. As we waited for the house lights to dim, they sent text messages to their friends on their cell phones. They snapped their chewing gum. They complained that the play was just talking. No big sets. No musical numbers.
When the lights dimmed and the performance began, it was silent. As we walked out of the theater, there was no more complaining. The room was filled with reverence.
“I’m really glad I came,” a girl said, as she exited into the Durango night.
A line of dialogue repeated itself in my mind: “Courage begins with one voice. It’s that simple. I did what I had to do. Anything else would have tasted like ashes.”
• “Speak Truth to Power,” 8 p.m. Thursday, Fort Lewis College Theatre, $5-$11.
• Marina Pisklakova-Parker lecture, 1:30 p.m. Friday, Student Lounge, free. Pisklakova-Parker is one of the leading women’s rights activists in Russia.
• Marina Pisklakova-Parker and “Speak Truth to Power,” 8 p.m. Friday, FLC Theatre, $5-$14.
• “Speak Truth to Power” and candlelight vigil, 8 p.m. Friday, FLC Theatre, $5-$11.
• “Emergence,” an exhibit of photographs by Allyn Taig will be displayed in the FLC Theatre lobby.
Artsjournalist@centurytel.net Leanne Goebel is a freelance writer.