Rob Tennant is a member of The Lab at Plan-B, where his play BOOKSMART enjoyed a sold-out run last season. Rob’s play QUARTER HORSE is the next offering of our 2016/17 Script-In-Hand Series this coming Wednesday, March 29, directed by Robert Scott Smith, stage managed by Joe Killian, with Emma Scotson as the Reader and featuring a cast of Olivia Custodio, Sky Kawaiw, Shawn Francis Saunders and Matthew Sincell. The reading is free and at capacity – click here for details.
The hardest I’ve ever laughed was on day four of an ill-advised weeklong outdoor adventure. I was one of eight young men camping beside an ankle-deep “river” in the middle of the most remote piece of desert in the USA, days behind schedule with limited food and silt-clogged water filters. Bone-tired from a 12-hour day of slogging through mud with a small boat in which I was supposed to be riding, someone broke the settled quiet gloom with a simple statement.
“We’re all going to die out here,” he said.
We all laughed until we cried, our guffaws returning to us off of redrock canyon walls for minutes on end. There’s room for comedy in any situation – gallows humor is a powerful thing.
A world in which we have run out of oil and are forced to ride bicycles everywhere isn’t necessarily a dystopia for me. To each their own.
What terrifies me is the prospect of a future where we’ve done everything wrong and it’s all for naught because we haven’t learned from our mistakes. A world where individual interest continues to be prioritized above communal good. A world where workers continue to be exploited for profit. A world where progress and happiness have incompatible definitions. A world where the Have-littles are pitted against the Have-nots by the power of the illusory promises of the Have-everythings. These are the things that keep me up at night.
When we talk about the end of the world, rarely do we talk about it literally. Climate change isn’t going to end the world. Superbugs resistant to conventional medical treatment aren’t going to end the world. Poisoned air and water aren’t going to end the world. The world and its ability to sustain life are resilient. It’s been here for about 4 billion years and made it through many major mass extinction events. The world is strong; it’s humanity that’s weak.
So we’re faced with the existential choice between downshifting our standard of living in order to allow the sustainable habitation of the planet by a growing population or continuing business as usual out of a misguided adherence to the catechism of convenience.
So how do we break this cycle? How do we wake people up and start learning from our mistakes, hopefully before it’s too late? Well, I write jokes about the “end of the world.” Even if we’re all not actually going to die out here, it’s important to acknowledge the possibility and then laugh at it. Who knows, it might even be motivating. It might be exactly the thing that gets us out of this mess together.