Research and Development for "In the Net"

Fall 2020 Grant Recipient

Michael Levenson (English)

In the Net joins the vulnerabilities of Syrian refugees and British Jews. Within the spirit of Bertolt Brecht’s lerhstücke (learning plays), it aims to unveil political truths through dramatic form. Equally inspired by Antonin Artaud’s theater of cruelty, the play unfolds through sensory heightening, symbolic action, and audience engagement. It continually means to exhibit (and to enact) the high stakes of theater (and the arts more generally) in our time of political emergency. In the Net concerns the vulnerability of refugees to the reach of power, the nature of solidarity on the margins, and the pursuit of safety and defiance. It dramatizes the collision of secular and religious visions, and the ‘mixture’ of Syrians, Jews and the English; and it attempts to disclose the political force of theatrical space at a time when world theater has been beaten into retreat. The governing trope is an Eruv (a contested place of refuge and freedom within Jewish ritual and also, within the play, a net of political conflict).