Jan. 16 — Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre

When in the Course of Human Events: Creative Disobedience and Why the World Can't Wait

Revolution #032, January 29, 2006, posted at revcom.us

January 16, a provocative evening of theater was held at the Chicago Steppenwolf Theatre. The benefit for World Can't Wait was titled: "When in the Course of Human Events: Creative Disobedience and Why the World Can't Wait." All 300 seats were filled and another 200 people had to be turned away. A reading of these words from playwright Tony Kushner set the tone for the evening: "...I choose to believe I'm a part of the beginning of something. I do not believe we have no ability to turn back this terror."

Powerful slides introduced the different performances. Photos of death and destruction in Iraq, U.S. soldiers, Afghanistan, people stranded in New Orleans, anti-war marches. The room erupted in applause with the picture of Cindy Sheehan.

Among the highlights of the evening: Mike Nussbaum reading Mark Twain on why he is an anti-imperialist. Harold Pinter's play on the mindset of US torturers. A scene from a Naomi Wallace's play about an Iraqi soldier confronting the US war machine. A reading of George Bernard Shaw's "Man and Superman." Chuck Smith, playwright and director at the Goodman Theater, reading William Faulkner about the role of artists in historic times. Mary Ann Thebus reading former US diplomat Ann Wright’s description of how she disrupted Condoleezza Rice's appearance before the Senate. A reading of the testimony of Houston bus driver Abigail Bayer about how the military prevented her and other drivers from rescuing victims of Hurricane Katrina. And Studs Terkel who ended the program and brought people to their feet with a powerful reading of the poem "Gone Away Blues" by Thomas McGrath.

"When in the Course of Human Events" was arranged and directed by Anna Shapiro and produced by Martha Lavey, artistic director of Steppenwolf, Sheldon Patinkin, and Joann Shapiro.

Anna Shapiro told Revolution, "I decided to do this because the state of the world concerns me. I am deeply troubled by the policies of the current administration and I actually would like to see them thrown out of there..." Anish Jethmalani, the actor who played an Iraqi soldier in the performance from Naomi Wallace's play "The Retreating World," said, "We were trying to raise questions, motivate people to think, and mobilize them to make a choice." And actor Paul Adelstein, who performed in a scene from Harold Pinter's play, "The New World Order" told Revolution: "The world isn't waiting. It's becoming more polarized, more dangerous, more uninhabitable to its residents. The damage being done by the current administration is going to be felt for a long, long time. The quicker we are to stand up and be heard the better--even if it's just to let the world know that this administration does NOT speak/act on behalf of all the citizens of this country."

Send us your comments.