In 2010 and 2011 we did a play about Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya written by Stefano Massini. It spoke to her experience in reporting the events of the Russian-Chechen conflict non-biasedly and the result being that she was murdered for it.
We developed the play in Florence, and then put it in the center of an event in Los Angeles where we partnered with Amnesty International to ask two questions: why is it important to protect journalists in conflict zones; and how would this protection be linked to healthy democracy. In other words, why should we care?
I have never felt quite done with this piece of work — the production itself or the potential for the event created around it. I have always felt that there was more we could do with it, more people we could involve and impact.
Then I read this blog about what is happening in Ferguson. In our own territory’s conflict zone.
When we sit for a moment silently and think about what a journalist — a REAL journalist — is, it seems to me we have more than an obligation to protect them. We have a responsibility to embrace them for enlarging our own intellectual capacity to process complex information and form opinion prior to taking action.
When our societies create an environment that literally beats or murders that level of inquiry, that level of curiosity, that test of what is real and what is not, that grey area where black or white can not survive and has no place . . . when that is strong-armed out of existence, we are threatening the true value of being a human being.
We are capable of complex processing and thought; of intelligent, enlightened action.
Without information, uncensored and freely reported, we cannot reach this potential. Either collectively or individually.
I am, every now and then, frightened for where we are headed. And yet I hold honest hope and faith that we can turn a corner away from this deep rooted. . . fear . . . of the challenges of being human and living together in this shrinking world.
Maybe we will do the play again. Maybe we must. And soon. Because within only 3 years, a question which seemed somewhat difficult for our audience to grasp personally is now clearly in our heartland. Journalists need protection so that democracy can legitimately thrive. Everywhere. Including within the landscape of our personal analytical processes.
We need to be brave enough to look at our world, created by our hands, through their non-biased reflections.
And if we need first to reflect on why that is, then it is the artists’ call to answer.
Stefano Massini, the author of ‘Stubborn Woman: a theatrical memorandum on Anna Politkovskaya’ has said: “Art is the strongest reason man has for being on the planet.”
Every day my reason for making art becomes stronger.
There was a time in history when art celebrated the glory of man.
I feel a desperate need some days to create work in order to help us all remember we are glorious. More glorious then we seem to know.