Thursday, April 5, 2018

Play a Day: People of the Book

Yussef El Guindi
For Thursday I read People of the Book, by Yussef El Guindi, and available at New Play Exchange.

"Can we all agree going into this war made us less safe?"

That is a question one of the characters ask in this People of the Book, and though you may assume they are referring to the Iraq War of 2003, they could easily be referring to the Persian Gulf War of 1991.

Following the demise of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the power-imbalance led to leaders like Saddam Hussein to press their advantage in a way which would have been more difficult in previous years.

President George H.W. Bush pressed his advantage as well. The West had not seen a wide-scale war in some time. Saddam's invasion of Kuwait was tailor-made for international outrage and for one shining moment, the United States was able to convince most of the world to join in or at the very least stay out of the way.

The war lasted thirty-three days, or has never ended, depending on how you look at it.

Taken literally, El Guindi's play is about deception, professional and personal jealousy, and the effect of American wars in the Middle East. It's a great read, with playful and cutting dialogue, and it is also a metaphor for how American has played itself, chaining our fate to the region. Each of the four central characters reflect a different point of view, about art and writing, about the war and its worth, and what responsibility the United States has yet to take for its actions.

Yesterday the President announced his plans regarding the conflict in Syria. "I want to get out," said President Trump. That's what he said. "I want to get out."

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