Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour was unable to get a Visa to attend the Chicago Humanities Festival-sponsored performance of his play “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” but he was ever so present in the MCA-staged performance of his play. Unlike other scripts, this one was a conversation between playwright and audience with the actor as the delivery mechanism. Granted, playwright/audience conversation is always the case, but a playwright usually isn’t speaking in the first person.
That was just the beginning of how this play diverged from the norm. The setup was that the actor received the script as they walked on to the stage. Also, the audience did not know ahead of time which actor’s performance they would be attending.
It’s difficult in an online publication such as Splash, which archives articles forever, to give away more details of the plotline, as this would be a major spoiler for anyone in the future. The success of the endeavor largely depends on this pile on of unknowns—i.e. mystery script to actor, mystery actor to audience.
Suffice it to say that akin to “soft” porn, this was a very soft shadow of a Milgram experiment, the famous social psychology demonstration of how we bend to authority.
How ironic--or appropriate?-- that the actor whom we saw perform, Fawria Mirza, is a former attorney-turned-actor who devotes much of her time fighting sexual violence performing a comedic-educational show “Sex Signals”.
Mirza carried the show. Her energy is a delight to behold and in the post-show conversation Silk Road Rising’s Jamil Khoury, who has worked with Mirza many times, talked about what a delight she is to work with from a Director’s perspective as she always does her homework. How challenging it must have been to an actor with this trait to walk on to a stage blind as to what is to come! Rise to the task, she did.
If you have not seen Mirza act before, here is a clip of her performance in Silk Road Rising’s “Mosque Alert”
The “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” performance was in keeping with the Museum of Contemporary Art track record of bringing worthy off-the-beaten path works—music, dance, theater—to their excellent performance space. For more information on upcoming events visit the MCA’s performance web pages.
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Photos: Nathan Keay