When offering fast and immediate pleasure, which call are we answering to: the other's need, or our aspiration for acknowledgment and credit?
Today, in my “New Play Development” class, we had a series of performances. The way they work is by the actors reading scripts with minimal blocking, and the playwrights sitting on the side to receive the feedback afterwards. What the commentators focus on is the quality of the piece: structure, characters, development, etc.
One of the pieces presented is written by a lady who is responsible for young people who were abused, and were addicts of some sort. The lead character is a troubled, abused, and an addict girl. This girl's "monologue" is encouraged by a sub-textual character, whose role is to mainly make her talk. All throughout, the piece is broken to deliver a poem that is written by “real” suffering young people, introduced through a background narration of their “real” story.
As we are meant to work in actor, director, writer, dramaturge, collaboration in this class, this playwright was very hard to work with over the past few weeks because she did not allow her script to be touched. She refused the director’s suggestions for molding the shattered bits into a harmonious structure. "Everything is real," She would insist. "It is the work of my kids, and the reality of their suffering is its essential strength."
So today, as the script was delivered, and the feedback attacked the “un-theatrical” structure, the lady pointed to the back row, where she seated her kids for the reading, defending how much they contributed, and how their stories and courage say it all…
It was a sensitive situation for all commentators, and I was thankful for being the silent actor on stage watching everybody fidgeting with their social correctness, and this critique session's requirements.
I could sense how awkward and uncomfortable her "kids" began to feel in the back row. Laughing nervously, raising the t-shirts to their faces, and shrinking in their seats. Up front, she was growing larger as if to compensate for their situation and stand in their defence. In my silent seat I swore. Whatever made her put them in such a situation?!
I remembered just then, how many people in Saudi attempt to defend women just the same way. Employ women everywhere, give them columns in magazines and newspapers, encourage anything related to them, and follow those actions by announcing that the courageous and powerless women are the goal and that THIS IS GIVING THEM A CHANCE IN THE SOCIETY. Such arbitrary attempts lead to bad conclusions: the employers and the society thinking of women as immature contributors who are not ready yet to take any serious role! Maybe the women pleasure from those chances, but do they benefit? Does the society benefit? Or does the greater pleasure go out to the people who readily receive credit for their sincerety and acknowledgment of the "less priviliged creatures".
Governments do it, media, corporations, communities, individuals, etc. That seemingly sincere acknowledgment which does not take the “subject’s” best interest/wellbeing at heart.