A play-reading series tentatively called,48 Months of Trump is launching at the Cox & Palmer Second Space in the LSPU Hall this Saturday at 7:00pm, admission is free.
Andrew Loman, a professor of English Literature at Memorial University, watched the most recent American election cycle in horror and disbelief. Like many of us, he didn’t anticipate Trump’s victory. However he was quick to turn his despair about the election’s outcome into art-based activism.
Since Trump’s election, Loman has formed a collective of local actors and activists committed to performing a reading of one political play per month of Trump’s term in the White House. All the readings will be free and open to the public.
“We’re beginning with month 48 and counting down to month zero with the assumption that Trump will only be in office for one term.” Loman said.
The inaugural play will be Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinosaurus, read by Loman, Mike Butler, Elizabeth Hicks, Zaren Healey White, Iain McCurdy, Marie Jones, Nicole Rousseau, Ruth Lawrence, Dean Doyle, and Lynn Kristmanson.
Rhinosaurus is set in a small village in France where people suddenly begin turning into violent and destructive rhinoceroses. Characters in the play debate whether people choose to become rhinos or are brainwashed into the transformation.
“I was seeing the transformation of the American political discourse; it seemed to me Ionesco had hit on a really fabulous metaphor for communities that are suddenly transformed by a political fervour or a change of the political winds” Loman said.
Loman points out that throughout the play there are lots of characters who initially find the rhinoceroses’ repellent, but begin to see their point of view and the appeal of becoming one.
“It struck me as a very strong metaphor for the revelation of a particular kind of voter who is ready to find Trump a palatable choice. “ Loman said.
While the collective already has a few other plays in mind for the series, it’s a flexible line-up because they want to be free to choose plays that are relevant to American politics at the time of the staging.
“We have a floating list of plays we might do but I want to choose ones that respond to the latest Trumpian outrage… “ Loman explained.
Loman says he often turns to art for a sense of comfort and community but also as a form of resistance. He believes it’s important not to underestimate the impact Trump’s decisions will have on Canadian politics.
He points to the global refugee crisis as an example, saying it’s likely that Canada will begin to feel pressure from the Trump administration to curb our response to the crisis.
“I think it is wrong to imagine there is a stark line at the border that causes political decisions in one nation to have no impact on the other” Loman explained.
The fluidity between American and Canadian politics makes it crucial that Canadians actively reject Trump’s values and rhetoric. For Loman, theatre is a valuable vehicle for voicing that rejection.
“We’re all invested. Unfortunately we’re not enfranchised so we have no way to change the political choices that are being made and affect our lives apart from this kind of response.”
For more information on this weekend’s play, click here.