Friday, February 2, 2007

The RASH is spreading

RASH began as a vignette of short monologues based on my personal experience of living in countries in crises. As I began to read these stories to writers, colleagues, friends, family and strangers, I realised there is a thirst to know what it's like to live in conflict zones, to witness human rights abuses, to take risks. And for those who lead similar lives, they see a picture so rarely reflected back at them. So in writing RASH, my first solo play, I have tried not to create a mystique or a halo around this world, but to provide a small glimpse into the life of a human rights/humanitarian worker. RASH is the story of how I ended up in Rwanda after the genocide and how that experience changed my life. I would love to hear from all you folks who have seen it - what did you think? Even if you haven't seen it, do share any thoughts you might have. My eyes and ears are wide open ...

7 comments:

Susie said...

congrats on rash! you are amazing. i was always inspired by your work in jen's class and am grateful that you're doing this show. all the best and much love.
xo

Andrea said...

I saw Rash at Harvard and thoroughly enjoyed it. The play succeeds in making something as huge and incomprehensible as genocide personal; the viewer is literally invited into Jenni’s living room to hear her story over a cup of tea. This cozy atmosphere, however, belies the violence and tragedy of her experiences in Rwanda. It is this uneasy juxtaposition between the familiar and the tragic that makes Rash so fascinating; genocide, the play seems to assert, can touch anyone, even a Scottish woman on stage in America chatting over a cup of tea.

Erin said...

I had no expectation of laughing at a play on the Rwandan genocide, but Jenni’s personalized account of a career in the UN brilliantly captured every facet of her harrowing experience.

Rahim said...

Rash was heartfelt, gripping, and awe-inspiring. A brave account of several United Nations missions on a personal and professional level, molding multiple dimensions into a cohesive, brilliant, and unique work of theater--a genuine look into the trials and tribulations of a UN humanitarian field officer. While this type of work may not be for everyone, like that of soldiers, those who tackle such endeavors with courage, great intention, and passion, should certainly be recognized for their contribution to humanity. We all have a story to tell, and this one, I hope, will be heard by the masses.

Tyler said...

The play gave me a rash. After watching I felt inspired to do something passionate and positive with my life then realized I'm happy with my life the way it is. People who want to go out and save mankind should save themselves first. But the world would die without such people so I'm neither annoyed nor sedated -- the rash is only smaller.

Emily said...

The one image that sticks with me most from Rash is that of Jenni being out on a date, talking simply about what she did for a living, and asked to stop because her story was too intense, too much for her date to handle. The sacrifices one has to make to take on a humanitarian mission on the ground are astounding - not only is there the hardship of the post itself, but the inevitable isolation in the aftermath.

I also hope that that man got the dumping he deserved!

Danny said...

Rash affected me on many levels: as an amateur of theater, as a former humanitarian worker, as a former international civil servant, as a former resident of Rwanda during the period 1995-1996, as someone who has sought to express similar experiences in narrative form, as a ‘returnee’ from field assignments, as someone who believes in the message delivery power of the performing arts and, in summary, as a witness.

I could comment extensively from any of these perspectives, but that would yield more than a few sentences. I found all aspects of Rash to be entirely credible, stirring and darkly entertaining.

Emotionally, the item that struck me the hardest, the one that caused ‘most significant change’ in me, was the sequence describing the training in Germany. For some reason, people who manage to ‘pretend’ to be violent are more terrifying to me than the ones who are violent (or can be) in live situations. It's perhaps the ‘control of self’ that I find more frightening and impressive than the kinds of spontaneous behaviors we encounter in the field, which are usually themselves fear-driven, not control-driven. The performance left me with the distinct impression that, in real life, Jenni was more terrified during the training in Germany that she ever was in Rwanda or anywhere else.

To put this impression in context, for whatever it may be worth, this ‘control of self’ thing of mine can be associated with how I appreciate (or not) art in general. That is, when I bear witness to a work of art (performance, sculpture, painting, whatever) by far my strongest inclination is to feel the artist's motivation, not the artwork itself. I suppose I
appreciate the ‘control of self’ required for the artist to place distance between him/herself and the child (the artwork). Maybe it’s the separation after labor that is most intriguing and frightening to me and thus leaves the greatest impression.