Monday, April 27, 2009

Total War Picketed in Cambridge!

Before I recap the staged reading of Total War, a process that has helped me immensely as a playwright attempting to develop his first full-length play, I have have to share with you the performance that was going on outside of the venue.

The reading had attracted a protestor. Total War is primarily about Jewish-Catholic relations, and secondarily about Holocaust denial, it doesn't portray student journalists in a very kindly manner. So one might imagine that a reading, which has been mostly promoted through the blogosphere and social networking sites, were it to be protested at all, might be protested by, say, a traditionalist Catholic group, but instead we have:


Close-up. Slight photo manipulation to make signs more legible. Note Hamas-flag and rejection of a two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict on signs.

This is not the first time I have encountered this man, who, as one can see, practically wraps himself in the Palestinian flag. He first came to my attention when he and a group identified as Boston Anti-Zionist Action (BAZA - website hasn't been updated in over a year) were heckling a bill of genocide survivors who had come to speak at a rally in solidarity with the people of Darfur. I later discovered that his name was David Rolde, former Party Secretary of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, and at least as of October 10, 2007, was still listed as serving on the GRP State Committee. (On October 29, 2007, Nathanael Fortune, Co-Chair of the GRP informed me, that Rolde had resigned from the party.)

The oddest thing about Rolde's "protest" was that Total War is not about any aspect of the Middle East conflict: it's about Jews and Catholics. However, this did not stop Rolde from shouting "Jewish murderers!" as nauseum in a whiny voice while partially blocking the footpath between Outpost 186 and the sidewalk. I suppose he takes his street performance anywhere there might be an event that could be termed "pro-Jewish."

Periodically as the actors were preparing, I would step out onto the patio of Outpost, unable to restrain a chuckle as I could not make any sense of why he was protesting Total War. Eventually, I called out to him something along the lines of:

"Excuse me, do you know what tonight's play is about?"

To which Rolde responded, "It's a play about Holocaust denial but you're denying the genocide in Palestine! You're a Holocaust denier!"

"I'm not sure you understand the meaning of the word 'genocide.'" said I, only to take on a more condescending tone, "You could, of course, use the word to mean anything you please just because you know is has emotional resonance, but that doesn't mean you know what you're talking about. Would you like to come inside and see the play and maybe learn something?"

Rolde scuffled a few feet down the sidewalk so that my view was largely occluded by the fence. He quieted down for a few minutes. I have no idea of he scared any potential audience members away, though he apparently had a verbal altercation with at least one late arrival.

Next: The reading itself, and what I learned.

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