K'JIPUKTUK (Halifax) - Good People, Bad Things, a one-person play about activism and the interlacing of the political and the personal is coming to Dartmouth later this week.
The well-received play is written and performed by Winnipeg playwright Daniel Thau-Eleff. Thau-Eleff, who is Jewish, is active in the Palestinian solidarity movement.
The performance is part of the excellent line-up presented by the Prismatic Festival, a four-day multi arts event featuring culturally diverse and Aboriginal artists.
"It really is a very personal story about a person wrestling with questions like how do I live my life, how can I be a good person in the world and have a positive influence," Thau-Eleff told the Halifax Media Co-op. "There are parts of the show that are fictionalized, but it is really me wrestling with that question."
The play starts with the protagonist stepping back from his activism in solidarity with the Palestinian people and taking a job working on a farm.
While at the farm he ponders a potentially abusive relationship between the farmer and his wife, and reads political philosoper Hannah Arendt's book on the trial of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organizers of the Holocaust.
Arendt describes Eichmann not as evil incarnate, but rather as a conformist and bureaucrat, famously coining the term the banality of evil.
"The questions that raises sort of lead me down a rabbit hole," said Thau-Eleff. "Are we all involved? How do atrocities like the Holocaust or the attacks on Gaza really happen? It's a very vulnerable play, it's about a person asking questions from the heart."
And don't expect too many answers, Thau-Eleff warns.
"There is a conclusion, but we don't quite come out and say what that is. Different people probably will have different ideas about what that conclusion is. For me it is more about the questions we raise along the way," said Thau-Eleff.
Events in Gaza to some extent shaped the play, Thau-Eleff told the Halifax Media Co-op. The launching point for the play was his Palestinian solidarity activism during and after Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 Israeli attack on Gaza.
"It's really difficult for Jewish people to be involved in Palestinian solidarity which is part of what we see in this show," said Thau-Eleff. "Five years ago it felt very polarized, and now even more so. You are on one side or the other, which makes things difficult."
However, the play is not directly about the Israeli Palestinian situation, Thau- Eleff said.
"It is about a person whose activism focuses on that, but ultimately it gets at the deeper issues."
Good People, Bad Things – August 22 (6pm) & August 24 (4:30), at the Alderney Landing Theatre.
The play is part of the Prismatic Festival, coming to Alderney Landing August 21-August 24. The festival offers spectacular performances in theatre, dance (NeoIndigenA), music (A Tribe Called Red), spoken word, visual arts, and media arts by artists from across Canada. And much of it is free!
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