Quandary

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The Brief

So maybe it’s time to be a bit controversial (we haven’t had any controversial challenge this year, have we?!)… so for this year’s controv top let’s look at Cultural Appropriation!

A heated and very current topic, but it does raise a few interesting questions – for example, at what point does inspiration become appropriation? And shouldn’t we as artists we be excited to learn about other cultures and from this melt pot that is our brain to create something new, or are we treading on dangerous waters by even subconsciously immersing ourselves in other cultures.

You may have heard about the controversial speech that Lionel Shriver made about cultural appropriation, asking whether writers shouldn’t be allowed to write from other perspectives that are not theirs culturally. And without ruffling any feathers (remember, I’m only asking questions, not giving any answers) where is the boundary? Should a white man be allowed to write from a black woman’s perspective? Should a gay woman be allowed to write from a trans’ perspective? Should a German writer be allowed to write from a Polish perspective? Or should we only write from our own limited experiences in life?

Perhaps the solution to this quandary is something completely different. Is writing truthfully and honestly becoming too crippling now? Maybe the way out of this minefield is by going away from the limited mind, the limited human experience, and taking art into new realms? (but that might be a brief of its own)
I don’t know… over to you!

 

The Excerpt

ZOE

I guess it’s my turn to ‘not understand.’

BASIL

The Terran philosopher Alan Watts once said “Through our eyes, the universe is perceiving itself. Through our ears, the universe is listening to its harmonies. We are the witnesses through which the universe becomes conscious of its glory, of its magnificence.” By ‘trying on’ aspects of another culture, so long at it is done respectfully – by ‘stepping into another’s skin’ as you do when you inhabit the characters you play, you are granting yourself a new perspective not just on the culture you are attempting to represent, but on your own culture as well.

ZOE

I… guess. But… that doesn’t necessarily make it okay.

BASIL

Have you asked Mac why he wants you to play the part?

 

To Read the Entire Play

Click here: 1902.21-Quandary

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Quandary by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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