One of my favorite things about art is how it is used to make a statement. Throughout history we see examples, starting with the first Greek plays commenting on emperors and the gods, to Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales - with something to say on literally every social subject, Arthur Miller writing The Crucible, paralleling the "witch hunt" of communists during the Cold War-era, through to today, when the 2013 play 1984 was revived for Broadway last year, with a clear commentary on the current administration.
The theater has never been silent on politics.
Paula Vogel, activist and playwright - she is drowning in awards, most notably the Pulitzer Prize and Lifetime Achievement from the Dramatists Guild - began a 48-hour play festival in 1984 with a few friends, which they called The Great American Play Bake-Off. The concept of using a few "ingredients" - phrases and character names - to write a short play has taken off, and is now a national event, with readings at the end of the 48 hours taking place simultaneously across the country.
Keeping in line with the theater activists who came before her, Vogel's ingredients this year are strangely familiar, using terms like "covefe", and the character of Pa Ubu 45 "(supposedly 6'3", a trim 239 lbs, in "excellent health". And yes, the hair is his and real.)" She is not backing down from her Call to Action, and ensures that the plays written will be political in nature.
This year's Bake-off will be held on President's Day, February 19th, 2018. Vogel encourages everyone to participate, even if they don't consider themselves writers. And at a mere 5 pages maximum, anyone can join. Registrations are being accepted for Bake-Offs at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis; in Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles; Vineyard Theatre and New Ohio Theatre in NYC; Fordham, Bowdoin, Wesleyan, Cornell and Emerson universities.
To find the list of ingredients, rules, and pick up Vogel's Call to Action, visit her website here.