American Debut of Successful British Play About the War in Iraq
(March 1, 2005) GENEVA, N.Y. — Before the book is even available in the U.S., HWS students and faculty will read excerpts from “Stuff Happens,” the docu-play about the decision to go to war in Iraq, by British playwright David Hare.
“The presentation of Stuff Happens at HWS affords members of the HWS community, as well as from the surrounding areas, an unusual opportunity to see a performance of a current play prior to its professional premiere in the United States,” says Linda Robertson, professor of writing and rhetoric at the Colleges.
The reading, which will include commentary on the accuracy of Hare's portrayal of events, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3, in Albright Auditorium on the HWS campus. The event is free and open to the public. A donation will be requested at the door to cover production costs.
The play takes it title from the cavalier response made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in April 2003 when he was asked to comment on the widespread looting which followed the ouster of Saddam Hussein by American forces, “Stuff Happens … and it's untidy, and freedom's untidy and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.”
Combining investigative journalism with dramatic inventiveness, Hare leads the audience through a reprise of public justifications for the war made by President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Colin Powell, National Security Council Chief Condoleezza Rice, Prime Minister Tony Blair and others. The audience also eavesdrops on closed-door meetings, negotiations and the human drama behind the public declarations.
The reading is presented by the Media and Society Senior Seminar, taught by Robertson. Research teams, comprised of senior Media and Society majors, will report on the accuracy of the information Hare presents. The reading will be followed by a discussion with the audience to answer questions and explore themes developed in the play.
“Nothing in the play is knowingly untrue,” says Hare in an interview with John Tusa on BBC Radio. The author is well known in England as a political playwright and wrote the play, which opened in September 2004 for the Olivier Theatre in London. “Stuff Happens” premiers in the U.S. at the Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, Calif., from May 25 through July 17. It has been read in the U.S. by various amateur groups.
Members of the HWS faculty who will read parts in the play include Professors Jo Beth Mertens (Economics) and Steven Lee (Philosophy), Nadia Louar (French) and Richard Rainville (Spanish). HWS students reading parts include: Lee Kreiner '05 (Staten Island, N.Y.), Morgan Callahan '06 (Newtown, Mass.), Barbara Johnson '08 (New York, N.Y.), Nathan Kress '07 (Brooktondale, N.Y.), Michelle Grocke '06 (Novelty, Ohio), Alyson Spery '06 (Salisbury, Md.), Alexis David '05 (Amherst, N.Y.) and Caroline Wenzel '05 (Geneva, N.Y.).
Members of the Senior Seminar (Class of 2005) are Tara Brisson (Jamestown, N.Y.), Kelly Case (South Salem, N.Y.), Henry Clutsam (New Vernon, N.J.), Helmi Hunin (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Tiara Kelly (Irvington, N.J.), Jessica Larigan (Manhasset, N.Y.), Kathleen McGuire (Tonawanda, N.Y.), Hadley Mongell (Rockport, Maine), Sarah Peck (Belmont, Mass.), Zack Stelzner (Brooklyn, N.Y.), Frances Sulle (Bronx, N.Y.), Nicholas Versandi (New York, N.Y.), and Geoffrey Wright (Bryn Mawr, Pa.).
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This play was featured in the March 2 Finger Lakes Times.