A question consistently asked in The Play Company’s Readers’ Group as we search for a next production is, “How is this play’s subject relevant to the current issues our world faces?”
We don’t just ask this to speculate what will sell the most tickets. PlayCo views each of our productions as an opportunity for shared action, to bring our New York City community together in a public series of conversations on contemporary issues. We call this series our Idea Labs. Whenever possible we form partnerships with the neighborhood, social service, educational, cultural, and social justice organizations whose missions coincide with the play’s content, in to more effectively host these discussions.
Tonight, PlayCo will be hosting an Idea Lab with one of our Community Partners on Intractable Woman: A Theatrical Memo on Anna Politkovskaya’s production: Overseas Press Club, the nation’s oldest and largest association engaged in international news. The play’s subject coalesces with the organization’s objectives “to encourage the highest standards of professional integrity and skill in the reporting of news to help educate a new generation of journalists to contribute to the freedom and independence of journalists and the press throughout the world, and to work toward better communication and understanding among people.”
While the performance is sold out, the post-show Idea Lab is open to everyone. The panelists include freelance journalist Zach Fannin, photojournalist Misha Friedman, and investigative reporter (and Politkovskaya’s former colleague at Noveya Gazeta) Elena Kostyuchenko–all of whom have contributed heavily to the coverage of Russian corruption and the nation’s ongoing conflict with Chechnya. The panel will be moderated by Judith Matloff, professor of journalism and conflict reporting at Columbia University. In 2004, Matloff published the report Mothers at War, which examined the prejudices and physical attacks that female journalists who identified as mothers (such as Politkovskaya) endured–silently for the most part, in fear that speaking out would derail their job opportunities. These OPC members will speak collectively on the concept of free speech and a free press in an autocracy such as Russia, referencing points made in Stefano Massini’s “theatrical memo.”
OPC’s involvement in the production is personal. In 2006, the same year as her murder, this association granted Politkovskaya the Artyom Borovik Award, an annual prize given to a Russian journalist since 2001. Among other Western organizations, they recognized the journalist’s growing influence over the international perception of post-Soviet Russia through her reportage of the war in Chechnya. Whether or not that recognition culminated in the decision to execute her is left to speculation. Intractable Woman poses questions OPC is eager to investigate.
The Idea Lab program uses outreach neighborhood block associations social service groups to provide a diverse and lively conversation on the timely subject of journalism’s role in a democracy. This conversation is available to all those who wish to join and will begin at approximately 9pm, Thursday, September 20.
Intractable Woman is currently previewing and opens September 23 in the second-floor theater of 122 Community Center (122CC). For more information, please visit our website.