What does today’s Scottish Independence vote have to do with the most surprising year of my artistic life?
It’s almost exactly 365 days today since I first met a Neo-Futurist. On September 17, 2013, someone came up to me at an event where I read a monologue, and said “We’re starting a company here in San Francisco, we’re the Neo-Futurists, are you going to audition?” So, I became a founding ensemble member. We worked and prepped for a couple months, and in January 2014, the San Francisco Neo-Futurists hit the stage to start the regular run of our weekly show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, an ongoing, ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and in my 16 weeks onstage between start of Jan and the end of June (we take breaks and rotate the cast, so I’m not :always: in it) I managed to get 30 plays total voted into the show. I like numbers and I like order, and in this chaotic world I appreciated the rarely symmetrical moment; after six months onstage with this ensemble, I had enough of a personal canon of TML plays to fill an entire hour-long Too Much Light program. 30 plays in 6 months.
It’s the 31st that I’m sharing today, though.
In August 2014, I did Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind again, but not in San Francisco. I was all the way across the world, in Edinburgh, Scotland, performing alongside Neos from New York and Chicago, all three Neo companies working together for the very first time, very far from home.
TML is constantly changing; within its format, new short plays die and are born every week, which means you are constantly writing, constantly responding to what’s around you. The show is partly a “living newspaper,” a way to report on and respond to the ever-moving NOW.
While in Scotland for the Fringe Festival, I wrote this play, Brigadoom, which we performed, sometimes to surprisingly-placed applause, and sometimes to an audience that talked back, shouting “Yes” or “No” at me in the beat of quiet after my speech. To be in that country on the cusp of the referendum vote was a fascinating experience, and in honor of that event, I’m posting Brigadoom here:
(All 6 Neo-Futurists in the cast onstage.
All 6 Neos lie down on their backs and look up at the ceiling.
All 6 Neos take one pastoral sigh in unison.)
EMMA. Do you ever lay down in the park on the green grass and look up at the clouds in the sky?
(All 6 Neos take one pastoral sigh in unison.)
RYAN. Do you ever lay down in the park and look up at the clouds in the sky, except you don’t really see anything, you just see rain, because clouds are made of rain and it’s raining, because it’s always kind of raining, because you’re in Scotland?
CECIL. Kind of.
(All 6 Neos take one pastoral sigh in unison.
As Megan speaks, they will begin to, one by one, sit up a bit, and look at her, look at the audience.)
MEGAN. Do you ever lay down in the park and look up at the sky and wonder whether the Scottish independence movement might be inherently doomed, because even if the vote passes in September, and even if the logistics of EU farming subsidy payments and the loss of UK defense industry contracts could be worked out in time to prevent permanent damage to local economies, and even if controversial energy market rates and banking security issues were solved in a way that benefitted the citizenship of a newly independent nation… even then, in reality, fighting centralized authorities for greater independent autonomy leads to, at best, a temporary levee against the surging tidal wave of increasingly amalgamated hegemony on a global scale, and that in these circumstances, the idea of escaping to a magical peasant village shrouded by fog and untouched by time may be, rather than an offensively classist fantasia of rural poverty used to whitewash the realities of how the upper crust treats those who carry their burdens by presenting a fiction in which the lower class “likes it this way,” which is how I used to see Brigadoon… what if, actually, an escapist isolationist fantasy… in which nobody can join your small self-governing society unless they love you… might be the only viable ideological response to the current global socio-political climate, in which thrives a seemingly unstoppable trend of conglomeration and consolidation of economic and political power which, even if the vote for Scottish independence passes in September, will inevitably resolve in the depressing doomsday endpoint of a globalized private-public government headed by a single corrupt tycoon with lots of money and no scruples, like Donald Trump or Rupert Murdoch?
MEGAN. Yeah, me neither.
(All Neos lie back down.
All Neos take one pastoral sigh in unison.)
Thanks for reading! xoxo -Megan