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Who Lives? Paperback – December 15, 2006
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2016 Book Awards
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"Those who have personal experience with its topic should bring Kleenex." -David Nichols, Los Angeles Times.
"Meeks's play deals with issues of life and death, the value of the human soul, and the strictures of personal value systems that stand in the way of, rather than help make, difficult decisions." -Back Stage West
"To personalize the astronomically difficult task of the committee, Meeks has created a distrinctively complex character in Gabriel. When the dying Gabriel discovers the committee has passed him over, he utlizes his ruthless abilities of persuasion to gain the treatment he needs to stay alive. -Daily Variety
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Top Customer Reviews
The story of the play, presented here in script form yet happily free of the many action indications usually found in scripts as asides that paralyze the movement of the eye through the meat of the story, is terse, tight, economical, and packs a wallop - even as a reader. No stumbling blocks, here, just propulsive story telling (think Tennessee Williams, William Inge, or even Shakespeare). Yes, the mellow secrets of the visual representation of the play's mechanics are present - double stage settings for the immediate story and for the committee input with accompanying lighting cues that allow us to understand how the characters interact between the personal and the group.
1963 is the year. Kidney Dialysis is a new machine that can prolong the lives of patients with renal failure, the beginnings of the entire field of kidney transplantation. Seattle is the place where a hospital is beginning to offer dialysis to candidates, and because of the plethora of potential candidates, a committee has been chosen to review all possible recipients - a thumbs up or thumbs down as to whether applicants live or die.Read more ›
My feelings are that when you read a book, you don't want to simply go through the motions. You're not interested--at least I'm not, m'kay?--in having your eyes flit from left to right across the page--or right to left if you're reading WHO LIVES? in either its Arabic, Farsi, Urdu, Pashtu, or Hebrew translations--randomly taking in words and sentences like the act of reading is some mid-afternoon commute from your ball and chain cubicle job back home to the 'burbs where the smell of cut grass, lemonade, and pot roast awaits you (about the closest thing to a sensory assault in the 'burbs).
No, I say.
Rather, you want the words from the books you read to touch you somewhere deep within your soul, if you've got one. You want to walk away feeling ethereal, light, and on a cloud with a certain identifying digit because that's what you bargained for with Christopher Meeks. You know this because you've already been reading Mr. Meeks' stuff for some time, and you wouldn't expect any less from the award-winning LA Times-reviewed playwright and novelist. Now would you?
But let's take the hypothetical example for the moment for all you naysayers out there that you've never heard of the "Meekster" before.Read more ›
I thought this was it! This play helps us Japanese audience see and think deeply about life and responsibility. I'll recommend it to anyone to read and any drama groups to perform. Someday I hope Yokohama Theatre Group can perform this show.
In the book, the author's simple and clear language opened up the complex human decision-making story. I've trusted the read throughout although not always on the characters or the decisions. This play makes me think, and what a pleasure that is!
Yokohama Theatre Group, Japan
"Who Lives?" is based on real events in the early 1960s. Kidney dialysis machines had just been invented, making it possible for the first time for people with severe kidney disease to have some hope for the future. Unfortunately, the dialysis machines were in such short supply in those days that demand far exceeded the capacity of the few machines available, and only a handful of patients could be admitted for the life-saving dialysis treatments. In order to select the patients, committees composed of anonymous citizens were created to review the applicants and make life-or-death decisions.
That's the background of "Who Lives?" In the play, which takes place in Seattle, the central character is Gabriel, a hard-driving, obnoxious lawyer who has alienated most of those around him, including his family and professional associates. When Gabriel learns that he has chronic kidney disease and has only a few weeks to live, his doctor submits Gabriel's name to the dialysis committee, but he is turned down. Gabriel then has his investigators find where the committee meets, and he goes to the committee and threatens to sue the members unless they reverse their decision and approve him for dialysis. Caving in to the overbearing Gabriel, the committee also adds Gabriel to its membership.
The real drama is in the committee meetings, where life-or-death decisions are made.Read more ›