Friday, June 10, 2011

Yasmina's Necklace: A Staged Reading (The Den Theatre)

I have been thinking about Yasmina’s Necklace—the complex and deceptively powerful new play from Rohina Malik—all week.

In our own city, the heavy pollution of bigotry has thinned in the past seven days, and an atmosphere suitable for all living, breathing things is finally perceptible; our legislators have—at long fucking last—recognized that gay men and women can legally couple in a kinda-mostly-the-same-sort-of way as “regular” people. Through angry propaganda and hatred, the basic right to love was finally granted.

For those who advocate egalitarianism, the vulgar braying of a callow populace can actually be fairly comforting. One sees a wrong-headed opponent loudly gushing intolerance like a wimpy firefighter handling his first hose, and one feels an annoyed amusement at the situation: You may get a little wet, but they’re the ones who are going to break something. Because the argument against tolerance always goes something like, “Those people are different and if we recognize them as being equal to us in any way then a baby will be killed by a dog-blowing Unitarian with an anti-Easter agenda.” And so the battle cry of open-mindedness becomes: Victory via revelatory preposterousness!

One only need catalog the test-flares fired by the proponents of idiocy to understand: *BOOM* Gay marriage directly leads to the dissolution of the family! *BOOM* Immigrants are all leaving anchor babies in Fresno to tether themselves to our social safety nets! *BOOM* How dare they build a mosque at Ground Zero! Sharia law! Jihad! Muslims!

What is truly embarrassing is that this blathering even finds a foothold to begin with. Things like love and understanding are jettisoned so quickly in favor of screeching accusations that one is aghast at the effort needed simply to maintain the high levels of ignorance. Because hate does not come face to face with who or what is being hated. Rather, hate gurgles and sputters in it’s own putridity. It’s like a deep-fat fryer: Whatever you cook in it may taste delicious at first, but it’ll fucking kill you.

Now, I realize the contradiction in speaking about tolerance and love in such a vitriolic way for I too feel the tinge of hatred towards those who violently oppose what it is I know to be right. And on a basic, emotional level, I understand where they are coming from; a threat is a threat and must be destroyed.

It’s just…when you see a play like Yasmina’s Necklace—which tells the story of two young Muslims trying to love each other despite being viciously damaged by the unjust war in Iraq and the never-ending suspicions of a country they desperately need to call home, you get very upset that is has to be so hard for them because it really shouldn’t have to be.

Yasmina’s Necklace: A+

-John Taflan

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