Monday, April 23, 2018

Play a Day: Undead Anonymous

Gina Femia
For Monday I read Undead Anonymous by Gina Femia, and available at New Play Exchange.

I've been reading a lot of folk tales from Morocco. Like tales from everywhere, when you read several you begin to pick up themes, storylines and characters which are repeated and reflected across the earth. We're all human, and we tell a lot of the same stories.

However, there are also the regional differences, many of which are the result of religion or landscape. The Moroccan tales have a lot of holes, holes in the earth. People are punished by being thrown down deep holes.

Also, there are the ghouls. We have an idea of what that means in the West, though perhaps not a clear idea because (unless you're from Cleveland) no one really knows what a ghoul is because we've never had a series of books, films or programs about ghouls. So we do not know the rules for ghouls.

My play On the Dark Side of Twilight is all about the rules, the rules for vampires which have evolved over the course of the past two hundred years. The rules are literal; can't walk by day, must drink blood, they sparkle (wait, what?) They are also metaphoric, the vampire symbolizing the fears we have; fear of immigrants, fear of sexuality, fear of addiction.

Femia's play is very funny, and a tremendous performance challenge; a monodrama through which one actor performs all of those attending a support group for "the undead." Through their monologues, memoirs and confessions, they share their fears, disappointments and anger at having been separated from humanity. These lost and lonely people (for monsters are people, too) eloquently describe their situation with wit and passion, each a unique example for the denial and acceptance of illness, addiction, difference in its many forms.

We all strive for acceptance, from each other and from ourselves, and some come by best through solidarity. Undead Anonymous is a lovely elegy of hope.

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