Carry We Openly Wonders how Absurd can the US Gun Culture Get?
A little over two years ago the writer-director team of Nick Stokes and José Amador premiered Carry We Openly in tandem with Openly We Carry by Paul Mullin at Theater off Jackson. They have revived it for this year’s Fringe Festival* for four performances at the Center Stage in Seattle Center.
Lights up and we find Justice (Stefan Richmand) and his mother Felicity (Abie Ekenezar) frantically looking for It. Eventually, Justice’s grandfather and Felicity’s father, Liberty (Bob Williams) awakens and joins the search. For the duration of the play all the characters look for It, and It never seems to be found. One is not quite clear just what It is. They look everywhere.
Stokes intentionally leaves it unclear just where the three main characters are. It seems like a home at times, but at other times they act like they are running or hiding from others, called simply They (Francesco D’Aniello) in the play.
Stokes calls this play an allegory. An allegory is a work of art which contains a hidden meaning. Thus we have Liberty fathering Felicity (happiness) which mothers Justice. All three are barely surviving in a basement someplace perhaps in the political future when all rights have been destroyed. Buildings have also been destroyed as there once was a first floor where they are holed up, but it is no longer there. Whole villages and their people have been destoryed
Or is that really their situation? At various moments there’s a sharp tap and scenes play over again in various permutations. In one, Justice appears to have been killed by They using the absurd weapon of a calla lily. Tap! Justice springs back to life and puts calla lily to his ear. He hears gunfire. Drops it. Liberty and Felicity both pick up and listen to the calla lily. As each listens we hear gun battles.
It is a long, though disputed and controversial, tradition written in law in England in 1689 and into the US Constitution as the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights (1787) that private, individual citizens have a right to arms as their defense against tyranny. Stokes doesn’t directly mention this, but one feels that They have collected all private weapons. Perhaps It, their last gun, is what the family is looking for, allegorically, to preserve Justice, Liberty, and Felicity.
This production suffered from actors having to be reminded of their lines from time to time and a couple of late sound cues. Those minor blemishes will probably be fixed in later shows.
Cast: Stefan Richmond as Justice ][ Abie Ekenezar as Felicity ][ Bob Williams as Papa/Liberty ][ Francesco D’Aniello as They
Production Team: José Amador, director & sound design ][ Nick Stokes, writer ][ Tom Wiseley, stage manager, lighting design ][ Robin Macartney, props ][ Laura Nelson, rehearsal proxy
Rating: “PG” for PARENTAL GUIDANCE suggested, recommended ages 13+
This Show May Contain — Simulated Combat or Violence, Adult Language, Strong Subject Matter, Loud Noises or Gun Sounds
* What is a Fringe Festival? There’s plenty of dramatic action happening during this year’s Fringe Festival: 34 shows in 5 venues running from March 23 to April 1. Read Drama in the Hood’s preview and visit the fringe’s website for more details. Fringe theater festivals trace their ancestry to 1947 and Edinburgh, Scotland. That year, eight theater troupes who were not selected into the official first Edinburgh International Festival organized their own performances. According to Wikipedia, “Robert Kemp, a Scottish journalist and playwright, described the situation, ‘Round the fringe of official Festival drama, there seems to be more private enterprise than before … I am afraid some of us are not going to be at home during the evenings!'”
Fringe festivals have become one of the most accessible institutions in the world and the one in Edinburgh is the planet’s largest arts festival. Festival organizers welcome any and all performers to submit applications for inclusion. A lottery is held to pick the shows. Applicants pay minimum fees to to cover the festival’s overhead and advertising. All acts get about the same number of performances and get to keep all box office income.
Expect brief shows (from 45 to 60 minutes), minimum sets so shows can setup and break down fast, and extreme originality. Get out there and support fringe theater!
Carry We Openly by Nick Stokes. Directed by José Amador. Produced by amador/stokes as part of the 2017 Seattle Fringe Festival (A project of Theatre of Puget Sound). Runtime: 1 hour. The Center Theatre at the Armory, 305 Harrison St, Seattle Center. Tickets: seattlefringefestival.org. Times: 3/23 7 pm, 3/25 4 pm, 3/30 8:45 pm, and last show 4/1 5:45 pm.