Monthly Archives: January 2014

A Complicated Hero (TEDTalk)

Samantha Power tells a story of a complicated hero, Sergio Vieira de Mello. This UN diplomat walked a thin moral line, negotiating with the world’s worst dictators to help their people survive crisis. It’s a compelling story told with a fiery passion.

“There has to be a role. There has to be the creation of political noise and political costs in response to mass crimes against humanity.”

“This movement stops at America’s borders…it’s not a global movement. It does not have too many compatriots abroad, who themselves are asking their governments to do more to stop genocide. And the Holocaust culture that we have in this country makes Americans more prone to, I think, bring ‘Never Again’ to life. The guilt that the Clinton Administration expressed about Rwanda created a space within our society that was a consensus that what happened in Rwanda was bad and wrong.”

“Governments will never gravitate towards crimes of this magnitude naturally or eagerly.”

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Theatre & Community Conversations: “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915.”

This week, ArtsEmerson: The World on Stage has brought the theatre piece, “We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…” written by playwright, Jackie Sibblies Drury, to the stage. The production is put on by Company One and is a powerful trifold balance of theatre, racial and social justice, and community conversations. 

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NY Times Comments: “During the years in the late 19th century when Namibia was a German colony, the Germans alternately favored one tribe, the Herero, over another, the Nama. But when the territory’s resources were drained by the building of a railroad into the interior, the Germans essentially began confiscating all the land from both tribes. When the Herero rebelled, an “extermination order” was issued, and the remaining tribesmen were used as unpaid laborers.”

“Trying to bring this dark history to theatrical life is the challenge facing the actors, and as they begin rehearsing, tempers flare. How do you dramatize history when only half the participants have left behind a record? The only documents these actor-authors have access to are a cache of letters from German soldiers sent home to their families. A thorny set-to also arises over whether black Americans in the 21st century can truthfully represent the experience of Africans living more than a century before, when no firsthand testimony has been left behind to guide them.” 

“How do we even know what happened to them?” he asks.

Comes the testy reply: “So you’re saying that we just made up the genocide?” The inevitable comparison to the Holocaust only adds fuel to the fire.”

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Among many questions the play provokes and urgently brings attention to, one that many audience members leave pondering is, “Can we ever really tell someone else’s story?” 

So can we?

To learn more read this ArtsEmerson interview with the playwright: Interview

To read more of the NY Times Article visit: “We are Proud to Present…”

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