Martine Kei Green-Rogers returns to Plan-B, having served as dramaturg for NOTHING PERSONAL earlier this season. She is a Raymond C. Morales Post-Doctorate Fellow in the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah.
CLEARING BOMBS reminds me a lot of my grandfather. My grandfather was not a great economist; actually he really wasn’t an economist at all, unless you count the day-to-day economics of our household. He was a simple man. A WWII vet who was very proud of the service he provided for his country.
As I began working on this play as dramaturg, I found a special affinity for the character of Mr. Bowles. Speaking with Eric Samuelsen, the playwright/director of this production, I figured out pretty quickly why. Mr. Bowles is based on his grandfather and, in numerous ways, the “everyman” in the world of this play. As we mused over the similarities between our grandfathers, the delicious mystery of why this play is so compelling became quite clear. Despite some of the complex and diverse ideas of economics that are discussed as these characters sit on a rooftop, something undeniable emerges – that the behavior of humans are at the heart of economics.
I know, that idea sounds self-evident and trite. However, I really mean this. Let’s think about it – our desires for security, for longevity, for sustainability, for connection, etc. drive our economic systems. The theories that explain how we make and spend money are rooted in our desires for LIFE. These may reflect our passions and our fears but it always comes back to the idea of life.
This brings me back to my grandfather. The economics of our house were simple – find something you enjoy doing for a living and then use the money that comes from that livelihood to do wonderful things for your family, friends and strangers. These wonderful things would be as simple as feeding people and as complex as investing in things for the future generations of the family. But the desire to connect drove the economy of our house.
The economy of the world is similarly simple. We are all interconnected. Things that occur in one country affect numerous other countries. No matter the difference of opinion on how it works (as Keynes and Hayek’s friendly banter in the play illustrates) – what happens to one eventually affects us all.
As a result, the question has always been (in terms of economics) – do we interfere with how it works (as Keynes would) or do we let it occur as it may (as Hayek would desire)? In our household, we were taught to intervene. I am sure in other households, a more passive approach may have been taught. Is one right or wrong? Does one particular approach lead to disaster (especially if implemented by the wrong person or government)? Or does something in the middle of these two ideas mean success? The debate continues on.
There are times when I see Keynes point, and then moments in which I see Hayek’s point, and then moments when I side with Mr. Bowles. I wish for you, as you watch this play, that your perspective will change and grow. I am sure if my grandfather were here to see this play, he would take the Mr. Bowles approach!
Plan-B Theatre’s #SeasonOfEric continues with Eric Samuelsen’s CLEARING BOMBS February 20-March 2, 2014, featuring Kirt Bateman, Mark Fossen and Jay Perry, directed by Eric Samuelsen. Click here for tickets and more info.