Saturday, December 10, 2005

Last Chance to Envy the Cockroach! TONIGHT!

Not sure why the link only lists the nov. 10th date...
and it's only $10.00 not $20.00

by: Lisa Ray
Envy the Cockroach begins with a knife to someone’s throat, and continues to grow more intense from that point on.
Produced by Dos Chicas, written and directed by Bob Morgan, and co-directed by Jon Harvey, Cockroach depicts the lives of three women whose chances of living productive, happy lives are as constrained as the prison cells they end up in. The play’s thematic frame lies within a quote from Johnny Cash’s liner notes to “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison”:
“You sit on your cold, steel mattressless bunk and watch a cockroach crawl out from under the filthy commode, and you don’t kill it. You envy the roach as you watch it crawl out under the cell door.”
As the show plays out, it becomes clear that these women are not only less free than the proverbial roach, they are treated as less than such by the people in their lives, especially the men who are supposed to love them—their fathers, grandfathers and husbands.
The set is stark—cage-wire lines the backdrop and that’s about it. The play does not need more. Not only are lives of the characters, dark and devoid of aesthetic as well as emotional beauty; the cast, Mark Carrier, Jennifer Decker, Elizabeth Seabolt, Mike Switzer, Anne Zimmerman paint deep, complex pictures on this blank canvass that both draw in, appall, and sometimes even, amuse its viewers.
This is the kind of play in which the dialogue and the acting seem familiar in their realness and, interesting, in the way the lives of real people are. It is also manages to be darkly humorous—the situations of the character’s lives are so pathetic, and yet so emblematic of middle American society, that you have to laugh at them.
Seemingly casual nuances, like the country music background track playing Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days) by the Judds, when “Grandpa” is a child molester, and indifferent and controlling husbands wearing a t-shirt that says “110% Catholic” are the kind of details that make this show a pleasure, even amidst all the pain.
Envy the Cockroach has all the major sins of humankind played out—murder, rape, incest, and worst of all, casual indifference. The women of the play are caught in a social cage that is not much different than their actual prison cells. The play alludes to this fact by casting the male actors in roles on both “the inside” and “the outside.” Switzer, who plays some of the women’s husband and fathers as their abusive prison guard, Harris, and Carrier, as both the seemingly refined, but actually weak and manipulative psychologist, Dr. Fiore, as well as the father figure for the women.
Everyone in the play is culpable, yet everyone is a victim, even Harris, who was repeatedly raped at his former job as a prison guard in a male prison. In turn, he rapes the women he is in charge of, in a truthful reproduction of the sad cycle of human emotional and physical reciprocity—It was done to me, so now; I will do it to you.
The psychological element to the play is highlighted by the relationship of the characters to their prison psychologist, Dr. Fiore. Dr. Fiore genuinely tries to help the inmates, but is caught up in his own imperfections and psychological motivations—causing him to attempt to treat them and manipulate them at the same time. Once again, the women become victim to a male who has emotional and physical power over them.
The play ends does not purport to give an answer to the problems of women’s degradation in a society that clearly gives deference to the powerful, but it does leave the audience with a sense of empathy for the type of people normally considered to be social outcasts or even pariahs—which, perhaps, is the foundation for solving any social ill.
Description: You sit on your cold, steel mattress-less bunk and watch a cockroach crawl out from under the filthy commode, and you don't kill it. You envy the roach as you watch it crawl out under the cell door. -Johnny Cash
From 1990 to 2001, the female prisoner population has more than doubled from 44,065 to 94,336. One third of these women reported having a parent or guardian who abused alcohol or drugs. 57% of women in state prisons reported that they were physically and/or sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. Female inmates who had been abuse victims were more likely to be imprisoned for a violent offense. As maximum security prisoners at Oakdale Reformatory for Women, Kaitlyn, Zoe, & Jolene contribute to these statistics, but all three are much more than just numbers. Each has a voice and wants to be heard. As they share the stories of their lives and crimes, the crucial role environment played in directing the life path they chose becomes painfully apparent. What would they have become if not subjected to abuse, denigration, and even oppressive protectiveness and love? With the help of their therapist Dr. Fiore, all three women attempt to understand how easily and unwittingly they became a product of their environment and how to accept the horrific crimes they committed.
Mark Carrier, Jennifer Decker, Elizabeth Seabolt, Mike Switzer, Anne Zimmerman

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