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Two Plays of Life and Death Paperback – 2012
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Two Plays of Life and Death: “Who Cares?: The Washington-Sarajevo Talks” and “Kate and Kafka” Universal and timeless, these companion plays chart the journey of a man and a woman struggling together on the Road of Life and Death. “Who Cares?: The Washington-Sarajevo Talks”: Based on the playwright’s phone calls to a man under siege in Sarajevo, running one of the city’s last independent radio stations, this play dramatizes the power of human contact and of normalcy amidst chaos. Inevitably leaves the audience, and often the actors, in tears. Cast of two. Productions: Victory Gardens Theater (Chicago); Studio Theatre (Washington, D.C.); Festival of Emerging American Theatre, Phoenix Theatre (Indianapolis). “Kate and Kafka”: In this dream play, Katharine Hepburn the Life Force contends with Franz Kafka the Death Force in an end-of-the-world setting, the Sanatorium Ultime. Contrary to his death-loving image, and thanks to Kate’s pushing, a life-affirming Kafka is ultimately revealed---reflecting the real Franz Kafka found in his late diaries and letters. Cast of four. Readings: Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Last Frontier Theatre Festival, founded by Edward Albee. About the Author: Carla Seaquist is a playwright and commentator. Since 9/11 she has focused on commentary, first for The Christian Science Monitor and now The Huffington Post. A book of her collected commentary, “Manufacturing Hope: Post-9/11 Notes on Politics, Culture, Torture, and the American Character,” was published in 2009. Returning to Drama, she is at work on a play titled Prodigal, a retelling of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Earlier plays include “The Altitude of Virtue” and “Excess on Their Hands.” Ms. Seaquist is a member of Dramatists Guild. The author’s earlier career in civil rights culminated in the post of Equal Opportunity Officer for the City of San Diego and appointment to the Governor’s Task Force on Civil Rights.
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Top customer reviews
"Who Cares?", a two-character play, received its world premiere at Victory Gardens in Chicago with Tony-winner Deanna Dunagan and Tony-nominee Raul Esparza, and had a reading at the New York Theatre Workshop with Tony-winner Jane Alexander and Raul Esparza reprising his role. The play follows a series of phone calls Ms. Seaquist had with Vlado Azinovic who managed Radio Zid, an independent radio station in Sarajevo, during the height of the Balkans War. The resulting conversations became a lifeline for both as each struggled with the horrors of war, helplessness in the face of a holocaust, and the quiet corners in which we seek and eventually find our humanity. The play takes E.M. Forster's famous quote "Only Connect" to its profound immeasurability.
"Kate and Kafka" has received several readings, one of which I witnessed at the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska. The play imagines a meeting between Franz Kafka and Katherine Hepburn at a sanatorium in an unnamed country. When I first saw the play, I thought it was a brilliantly clever conceit. Reading it many years later, my reaction hasn't changed. Ms. Seaquist imagines a meeting of Ms. Can-Do and Mr. All-Is-Futile and the shades of grey they create when they mix. As the fireworks intensify, shadows of doubt creep into Hepburn's landscape and seeds of the possible creep into Kafka's. It is a fantastical supposition that's as intriguing as it is funny.
At the root of Ms. Seaquist's work is a cry to battle: against nihilism, apathy, and fatalism. Read it and feel renewed.
The first play is now titled "Who Cares? The Washington-Sarajevo Talks". And although I have avoided using the word "gripping" in a review before, I cannot find another word as suitable. Doubtless it is because I empathize so deeply with Rhonda, the American woman `of a certain age' who is forced into the role of observer when true heroics are required. The diabolical siege of Sarajevo required armies to end it, but political realities elsewhere said no. Isn't this the position we all inhabit today as we watch Syria? or Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Sudan? I could go on. There are so many evolving horrors in our world.
In the guise of Rhonda, Carla Seaquist cares. She sends the only thing she has: Love. Not nightly prayer, but a love that costs. Paid for with commitment, commitment that threatens to drown her in fear.
And that is the drama that satisfied and gripped me. Drama without manipulation. A play that dives deeper than sentiments. How else can we come to truly care about people suffering worlds away?
The second play, "Kate and Kafka", evokes these two cultural icons very beautifully. Katharine Hepburn meets Franz Kafka in a sanatorium. Seaquist extracts and places their own words in this drama to great effect. Seaquist is wise enough to understand that even the great optimist Kate suffers doubt, and when she crashes in this play, Kafka draws strength from his own suffering. They resist submission to tyranny: "Make Difficulties!" as Kate says.
And, finally, I suggest the essays in Seaquist's appendix are useful during those moments when we wallow in our lonely moments of doubt.