Jan. 17, 2013 - Issue #900: The ongoing musical evolution of Hannah Georgas
Going off the grid
Free-Man on the Land explores freedom's extremes
Playwright Steve Pirot, the co-artistic director of the company as well as an actor in the show itself, looked at a wide range of works that spoke to the concept of freedom in order to write the script for the show.
"I started with primary texts," Pirot explains, "and then I went to other sources. With FMOTL it's all about freedom as it relates to the individual and the government, but I tried to get beyond that. I was reading Cicero, Pablo Neruda and then speeches given by senators from the southern states in the years prior to the Civil War."
Once the show began its first run, the cast and crew quickly realized that their new play was appealing to a market they hadn't anticipated. Audiences who were drawn to the concept of FMOTL—either out of support or sheer curiosity—came out to close the first run of the show with an overflowing house. The ensemble took this indication of the project's relevance and potential and are now opening the show for another run with a revisited structure that has been carefully designed to compliment the larger venue they'll be using for round two.
While the majority of mainstream media representations depict FMOTL as marring the current societal order, Pirot's hope is that this play will allow audiences to briefly extract themselves from the deluge of critiques in order to engage in a larger discussion. Uninterested in either promoting or discrediting the FMOTL philosophy, he's written a play that depicts a man who, while struggling with the other perceived restrictions in his life, is also unknowingly trapped on stage as a theatrical fiction.
"I think one of the reasons there's been a more negative spin put on FMOTL is that the people these reporters are going to aren't necessarily the best sources," Pirot says. "What they're finding are the flaws and failures, whereas the people who are more successful are off the grid and uninterested in drawing attention to themselves. Richard, the character we have created for the show, hasn't succeeded at putting these ideas into practice either. I think the people getting media attention may not be appreciating that what is being proposed here is a really hard road to follow.
"I find FMOTL philosophies to be enticing, certainly. The part of me that wants to think of myself as an iconoclast who marches to the beat of his own drum, as an individual who is free, well, FMOTL speaks to all of these things," Pirot says. "But it's also so difficult. That is ultimately why we have a character that could easily be termed as a failure in their life experiment: he has an extreme view of freedom. When it comes down to the practical experience of living, at some point you have to compromise with people in order to be engaged in society."
Until Sun, Jan 27 (8 pm)
Directed by Murray Utas
The Roxy Theatre, $11 – $26 vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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