Skip to comments.Abu-Ghraib is now a play at Harvard
Posted on 05/12/2005 10:35:42 AM PDT by Spacewolfomega
That's right... the incidents that occurred at AbuGhraid prison are now a play production at Harvard University. Here is the story:
Abu Ghraib onstage Multimedia theatrical piece tries to make sense of prison abuse By Ken Gewertz Harvard News Office
Since the theater's beginnings in ancient Greece, playwrights have used the stage to explore complex ethical issues and portray disturbing current events. It is a practice that continues into the present day with works like Athol Fugard's "Master Harold ... and the Boys" and Tony Kushner's "Angels in America."
On May 12, the Loeb Experimental Theatre will premier a work by a Harvard undergraduate that carries on that tradition. "Abu Ghraib," written and directed by sophomore Currun Singh, probes the meaning of the 2004 prisoner abuse scandal using a combination of dialogue, film, music, and dance.
Singh, a social studies concentrator who has participated in student theatrical productions both onstage and behind the scenes since his freshman year, said that the idea for a play based on Abu Ghraib evolved out of the shock and dismay he and fellow students felt as the news story unfolded. His concern about human rights and about tensions in the Middle East also contributed to the creative ferment, as did his desire to work on a production that dealt with more serious issues.
"I wanted it to be a serious piece," he said, "a call to action." Dancers in rehearsal.
Singh soon found a team of collaborators to join him in this risk-taking venture, among them fellow sophomore Xin Wei Ngiam, also a social studies concentrator, who agreed to produce the play. Like Singh, Ngiam found the revelations about events at Abu Ghraib extremely disturbing.
"On one level I was just appalled. I was just feeling pure shock and horror. But on another level, I was wondering, how could people do those things?" Ngiam said.
The question of how ordinary people can commit unspeakable acts became one of the central issues not only for Singh and Ngiam but for all the students working on the production. Through group discussions and rehearsals, the play developed and changed, propelling the participants through a rollercoaster ride of feelings.
"In rehearsal we tried to simulate what had happened, and sometimes it just ended up being funny, obviously because this wasn't the real thing, it was just a play. The experience could be very confusing and disturbing," Singh said.
In the play, characters based on real Abu Ghraib military personnel whose names have since become well known - people like Spc. Charles Graner, Pvt. Lynndie England, and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski - talk casually amongst themselves and intimidate and humiliate the Iraqi prisoners. But the play does what neither the leaked photos, the media reports, nor the military trial have been able to do - namely, to apply invented but plausible identities to the anonymous Iraqi torture victims whose naked bodies have become all-too-familiar over the past year. 'Abu Ghraib,' an original piece written and directed by Currun Singh, dance directed by Marin Orlosky, produced by Xin Wei Ngiam. Performances May 12-14, Loeb Experimental Theater, Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle St. Tickets are free and can be reserved at the Loeb Drama Center Box Office (617) 547-3800.
In key scenes, the prisoners talk about their past lives, how and why they were captured, and how their consciousness has been changed by the treatment they have received. In some respects, these are the most moving and revelatory scenes in the play because they remind us that these unfortunate individuals have families, friends, careers, personal histories, and, above all, human feelings.
Another element that engages the audience emotionally as well as providing a narrative thread is the gradual moral awakening of Specialist Joseph Darby, the soldier responsible for leaking the incriminating photos to military investigators.
Singh and his colleagues made a decision that even the most honest and explicit dialogue could not do justice to the emotions aroused by Abu Ghraib. This is why they have incorporated the element of dance into the production. Michael G. Jordan '08 is one of the actors in the multimedia theater piece based on events at Abu Ghraib prison.
"We thought that dance might be the most effective way of expressing feelings about these events. Dance can bring out visceral emotions that words can't," said Singh.
Singh, a first-time director and playwright, acknowledges that the production could not have reached its present state without the help of the Denver-based group Show-Up Productions, dedicated to fostering political theater among youth communities.
"They've been terrific at raising money, giving us advice, helping us mold the characters, and mentoring me in my first effort at script writing and directing," said Singh.
How will Singh know if he's succeeded? He has a pretty good idea of the effect he wants his production to have on the audience.
"If they come out slightly uncomfortable, shocked, and motivated to action, that will be what we're aiming for."
I bet the Frat boys lined up to be the ones to have the panties on their heads.
I was going to say that it was a change from it being AT play, at Harvard.
No doubt! There are some hilarious pictures from the production, but I'm not sure how to post them. Sorry, I am new to FreeRepublic. I will post the links (not sure if they will work.)
(guy looks like he drank 50 glasses of melonade before play practice)
(dancing torturers/victims? - when was there dancing at Abu Ghraib?)
He said, without a hint of irony.
As opposed to, say, the American men and women risking their lives in defense of freedom. We all know they have no families, friends, careers, personal histories, or human feelings. I don't see anyone doing any plays or movies about them.
I'm sorry (not really), but I still don't see what was wrong with what happened at the prison. The "victims" were imprisoned for ATTACKING U.S. SOLDIERS!!
Gee... Have they announced the premiere of the beheading of Nicholas Berg? They could use the actual tape of him screaming as they saw off his head with a big knife as they chant Allah Ahkbar. That seems more serious (having your head severed off) than having to wear panties on your head.
Whoa... don't give them any ideas! Next we'll have a ballet routine of the terrorists dancing like fairy-boys before they brutally cut off someone's head! Oh wait... that shows the terrorists in a bad light... never mind, we'll never see that.
idea for a play based on Abu Ghraib evolved out of the shock and dismay he and fellow students felt as the news story unfoldedActually, the primary emotion of these and all the other leftist howlers during the time the NY Slimes was running non-stop wall-to-wall hysteria about this "issue" was one of gotchya.
They were so sure they had W!
Harvard.....that was once a respected university, right?
Yeah, but they quit when they found out that they weren't "pre-owned".
It's just an effort to balance out their last production, which highlighted Saddam's reign of murder, torture, rape, and overall brutality.
No big deal, Harvard students are used to running around with panties over their heads.
But when are they going to do a play about life in the prison under Saddam?
Perhaps the required special effects of tongues being cut out, people stuffed into shredders etc. would be too hard.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that prison a scene of many, many instances of REAL torture by Saddam's forces before the liberation?
The US people who abused prisoners are being dealt with. But perhaps a much, much better play would be about what Saddam did there. As it is, this play is like some neo-Nazi group staging a play about former SS agent being illegally given a traffic ticket while driving past Auschwitz.
Why do these people HATE their country so? How have we failed them? Are they that ignorant, or just incapable of thinking? And yet the left calls the NASCAR folks stupid. Unbelievable.
Harvard alum cheering on the Crimson, Yale has the ball:
(Outthrust jaw) "Repel them, I say! The insufferable cads, the sheer cheek! Deny them advantage! Repulse the the bounders . . . lovey pass me my flask . ."
Rocky Horror - Part 2
The people at Abu Girard were really bad guys. These are the ones that blew up women and children, etc. I really don't want to hear them talk about "their families".
I hear Ted Bundy was an "unfortunate" individual with a family, too.
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