Saturday, April 8, 2017

Play a Day: Running On Fire

Aurin Squire
For Saturday morning I read Running On Fire by Aurin Squire, which is available on New Play Exchange.

Plays about running are weird, because running is weird. A race is comprehensible, but "going for a run" can be entirely alien to someone who does not do that. It can appear the most trivial of athletic endeavors, and I say this as someone who desperately loves running.

But the act of running carries weight, because while running for sport is completely passive and innocuous (no contact, no competition, running for running's sake) most other examples of running are fraught. It is the result of fear or aggression. Running at something, running away from something.

I am a runner. I run every other day. I have run three marathons. I have kept a running blog since 2006. I am a white male and have never been jumped, catcalled, or been implicated in a crime while running. I have runner's privilege.

Squire's play presents a "town and gown" conflict, centering around an announced university-sponsored marathon which will monopolize a city park, a park which was recently the site of a sexual assault. One of the disheartening and unfortunately very real elements of the narrative is how far people of privilege will go to maintain normalcy in the midst of a crisis.

Numerous people of privilege have been made aware of social injustice as a result of the election. They ask each other, publicly, what action they should take. Too many follow the path that they had already set for themselves, and work to fit progressive action into their normative, daily existence. But there's no reason we should have to cancel the marathon!

And you know what? We always get to keep the marathon.

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