RADIO HOUR EPISODE 12: STAND by Matthew Ivan Bennett receives its world premiere in a co-production with KUER’S RadioWest on April 26, 2018 featuring Shane Mozaffari, Jay Perry and Isabella Reeder, with original music by Dave Evanoff, eFoley by Joe Killian and direction and sound design by Cheryl Cluff.
Click here on Monday, April 23 at 9am to listen to Matt on RadioWest discuss the history, idea and literature of dystopia; then again on Thursday, April 26 at 9am to listen to STAND live.
When I tell people what my new play is about – “Oh, it’s a dystopian spy thriller set in the mid-21st century in which the alt-right has taken over” – they usually shiver. Granted, I haven’t tried out my one-liner on someone who identifies as alt-right.
But, really, the play is less about politics and more about moral choices.
At the center of RADIO HOUR EPISODE 12: STAND is Agent Alicia Mora, a thoroughly rational person who decides – at least initially – to work for a flawed regime instead of a flawed rebellion. The harrowing unspoken question for her is, “Which side is doing the least harm overall?” Of course, all of our choices in life, and especially in drama, are constrained. Rarely are we afforded the chance to coolly decide what will hurt everyone less and then do that. The decision gets complicated by other questions. The question of personal comfort. The question of belonging. The question of how you’ll feed your children. The question of rightness. The question of an imagined ultimate outcome for your tribe.
Or, for Agent Mora, the questions of love, family and sisterhood.
So, on one level, STAND is a liberal person’s nightmare. It depicts an America where the Johnson Amendment has been repealed; in which church and state wrap together. It depicts an America where sexism and racism do not fade away, but are stoked by fundamentalism and terrorism. One in which California has seceded and lie detection tests become routine.
On another level, it’s a moral gauntlet with no clear black hats or white hats.
I wrote it partly to face my own fears about the political climate. When George W. Bush was President, and signed the Patriot Act, I literally had a nightmare about police stopping everyone on the freeway, searching our cars, and shipping some of us off to concentration camps. In 2018, I’m writing a radio play to cut my subconscious off at the pass.
All dystopian literature is our fear writ large.
And we can learn from studying our fears.
From the author of EPISODES 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10 and 11: LAVENDER & EXILE, FRANKENSTEIN, ALICE, SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE, GRIMM, OTHERWHERE and YULETIDE, respectively; as well as BLOCK 8, DI ESPERIENZA, MESA VERDE, ERIC(A), A/VERSION OF EVENTS (Plan-B); A NIGHT WITH THE FAMILY (Omaha Community Playhouse, PYGmalion); and co-author of THE WORST THING I COULD HAVE DONE (Sackerson).