It's a Strange, Strange, Strange World

It's a Strange, Strange, Strange World

by Patrick Gabridge, Playwright

Patrick GabridgeWhen I wrote Blinders, Bill Clinton had recently won reelection by defeating Bob Dole, with nutty/pesky Texan billionaire Ross Perot making his second (and less successful) at becoming president and mucking up the works. The contest was hard-fought, as all American elections are.  Voter turnout was at a record low—the candidates sometimes didn’t seem that different from each other, despite the typical media hype.

The play started with a simple idea/question—what if two people were found who were exactly alike, the proverbial two snowflakes? Imagine the sensation of it all. And then Karen Sayer popped up, trying to show an unreceptive world the truth. The gravity field of it all was impossible to escape, and she became sucked into the whole mess.

The show first opened in California and Colorado (under two different titles—it was Two Snowflakes in California, and Blinders in Denver), and it seemed like an odd fun-house ride, a grand exaggeration. The play had a healthy life, with more productions in New York and Chicago and Boston, and saw politics grow even stranger, with the two elections of George W. Bush.

But now, with our current election circus, Blinders no longer feels like a script that’s speculating on a strange and distant future, where dark and violent messages lurk in plain sight, right on top of a celebrity explosion that raging out of control. Instead, each passing day seems to make the play feel like it was written only yesterday, as a direct critique of the media and political campaigns. It’s an odd thing. As a playwright, I’m glad that this kind of weird, funny play now seems more relevant than ever. And, as a citizen, I’m deeply unsettled by this fact.

I’d like the world to start to deviate from the play as soon as possible. Please. There are people out there like Karen, eyes wide open, trying to tell the truth to the supporters of candidates who seem to have no interest in the truth or facts. I hope that we really do live in a world where there is such a thing as objective truth. But I could be wrong. Or do we fight for such a thing at our peril, just like Karen?

I’m especially grateful to Flat Earth for choosing to produce this play right now, because these are the kinds of moments where theatre can be the most immediate and most important. We’re seeing a surge of political satire and political plays on stage in Boston right now, because we need the conversation and the examination. And they’re a hell of a lot of fun. Audiences will still enjoy a lot of laughs at this production of Blinders (the cast is such a joy), but I suspect there will be a sense of uneasy recognition behind the chuckles.

I wonder what we’ll do about it.