The First Floor Theater at La Mama pulses with the sound of howling guitars and snarling young women, who are loud enough to be heard all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Possibly even by all 80,000 who live in Oklahoma’s 19th District.
Take THAT Justin Humphrey!
Justin Humphrey, of course is the Congressman from Oklahoma who believes that ‘one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions. I understand that they feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate—what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant. So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in’.
This is not satire! This is an actual quote from the Congressman explaining his rationale for introducing a Bill that would require women to get “the written informed consent of the father of the fetus” before terminating her pregnancy. Furthermore, a woman seeking an abortion would “be required to provide, in writing, the identity of the father of the fetus” to the doctors performing the procedure!
Despite being an avid political junkie, I would not even have heard of Justin Humphrey, but for an intervention from the distaff side of the house, so completely have I withdrawn from the news after November 8. In hindsight, I am grateful that I did, because it made my experience of Riot Antigone at La Mama all the more delicious.
Seonjae Kim’s brilliant Antigone, re-imagined as a Riot Grrrl and presented by an all female punk band could not be more timely.
I had greeted Donald Trump’s surreal ascendancy to the Presidency with more bemusement than despair. In hindsight, it was wishful thinking more than anything else that made me see him as a sheep in wolf’s clothing. His noeveau riche crassness seemed mildly amusing. His bombast felt exaggerated and theatrical. His extreme positions almost came across as hyperbole. His transparent misogyny was the one thing that was truly unsettling, but I was absolutely willing to believe that once the election was over, he would modulate his rhetoric and moderate his positions as his focus shifted from electioneering to governing.
How wrong was I!
I find everything that President Trump has wrought since his victory to be profoundly repugnant. His immigration policies and his gleeful eagerness to violate the rights of law abiding immigrants. His reactionary appointments whether they be to the Justice Department, The EPA or The Labor Department. His continuing dog whistles to the lunatic fringe. The politically expedient shift in his views on women’s reproductive rights.
Our dystopian nightmare is here and there is much cause for despair.
Yet, last night, as I experienced this riot of strong young women at the storied La Mama Experimental Theater Club, I felt anything but despair. As they unabashedly strutted the stage telling the story of Antigone’s protest to the sound of crashing cymbals and howling guitars, I found myself smiling. Tyranny will not die but protest is alive and well.
Disclaimer : The author’s daughter, J.Mehr Kaur is the co-producer of Riot Antigone along with Hannah Greene. Had there not been a family connection, his praise for the production would perhaps have been more fulsome.
Sarbpreet Singh is a playwright, commentator and poet, who has been writing while pursuing a career in technology for several years. He is the author of Kultar’s Mime, a poem about the 1984 Sikh Genocide. His commentary has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and Worldview, The Boston Herald, The Providence Journal, The Milwaukee Journal and several other newspapers and magazines. He is the founder and director of the Gurmat Sangeet Project, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation of traditional Sikh music and serves on the boards of various non-profits focused on service and social justice. He is very active in Boston Interfaith circles and serves as a spiritual advisor at Northeastern University.