This is true story about a meaningful and blessed day in today’s America, this past Saturday. The last part first. If you are one of my writer friends, or if you are a reader, a lover, or a liar, go see the production of Fiction by Steven Dietz, through next weekend at the Dragon Theater in Redwood City. “I’ve grown interested in the fact that there are really three ‘pasts,’” said Dietz for program notes, “the past we remember, the past that we record and the past that actually happened.” We were treated to an excellent production and one of those complex, well-resolved and beautifully written scripts that you won’t want to miss. Get schedule and tickets here.
And it made me want to ask about every fiction that I read: where does it help, where does it hurt, and whom does it hurt? I leave it to you to extrapolate.
Jay and I saw Fiction with our friends, neighbors Carolyn and Darryl Compton. Carolyn is involved as a board member at the Dragon Theatre, and is an accomplished actor and supporter of Bay Area regional theatre.
At dinner, we talked with our friends about many pleasant things, including our morning at one of the UC Berkeley Class of ’68 Quarterly Gatherings. As a Cal ’69 alum, I have joined Jay ’68 and classmates at Gatherings and trips to Washington D.C. for over a dozen years. Yesterday morning at the Career Center, we listened to the Dean of Students Joseph Greenwell talk about all the many necessities outside the classroom provided by his division, which help students overcome difficulties and succeed at college and after graduation. This includes a whole unit to support the over 200 women a year who experience some kind of gender harassment or worse; letters sent to selected populations who might have felt threatened by election rhetoric; and preparations for the inevitable protest turnout on inauguration day. Generally speaking, our alumni group enjoys learning about both the academic and student support sides of campus, and to strategize about offering financial, mentoring or other assistance. Our principle project has been founding support and partner for the Center for Civility and Democratic Engagement in the Goldman School of Public Policy.
Back to dinner before the theatre, despite our day with people devoted to “civility and democratic engagement,” we were soon bemoaning changes ahead for America. And how the new president’s election will encourage bad behavior—police to harass more blacks, bigots to further marginalize and threaten Muslims, and on college campuses, greater numbers of young men to terrorize young women.
Despite post-election tremors and blues, many are thinking ahead, myself included, trying to figure out what to do next. Meanwhile, I know that my perspective is a gift, only partially earned, mostly a matter of luck.
That is my one fine – and conflicted – day in America. The true story of our lives today. Difficult to believe, but unfortunately, not fiction.
I’ve had your post queued up to read for a couple of days. What a coincidence! Yesterday, my cousin spontaneously contacted me to say she had an extra ticket for “Fiction.” I saw it last night. It was quite thought-provoking, especially for anyone who reads and writes fiction, and who is (or knows) a writer.
I’m quite comfortable with the idea of turning life events into fiction. I do it all the time in my own work (though I try to be more aware and less hurtful than the characters in “Fiction”). But I have a big problem with passing off fictions as truths, which seems to be no big deal these days. When the putative leader of the free world lies with impunity–and seems not to care one whit for the distinction between fact and fiction–then we are in a sorry place indeed.
Yes, the trend is quite disturbing. I would say that I fear for democracy, except that our nation has overcome many hurdles before this. I see the “lies” issue everywhere now, on all media. People are becoming aware, paying attention. Hopefully, working on it! Thanks for your comment and glad you found “Fiction” a meaningful theater experience!