Wednesday, 9 May 2012

VOICES: Leah Virsik (San Francisco)

Dear Mr. Soleimanpour,

Your play "Red Rabbit, White Rabbit" was such a gift. Thank you.

My husband Tom and I attended the performance last night presented by the San Francisco International Arts Festival (SFAIF). There were 15 people including the wonderful actor Ms. Velina Brown and yourself. I was the note taker.

I find it interesting that as much as I want to travel, I haven't or don't because of self-imposed limitations. But to think that I couldn't travel, I can't imagine.

Tom and I kept talking about the play last night and even still today. I'm a huge art fan and appreciate an artist's request to connect with the audience but it's not often that I¹m so compelled.

Your play broke down barriers by not giving the actor a chance to rehearse and by giving the audience a chance to participate. And in that participation we got to experience what you were expressing. The last play I attended, the author was patronizing toward the audience and made me question how much money I had spent on the performance. Your consideration was refreshing.

Ms. Velina Brown did an exceptional job of recreating the thirty-second scene of the white rabbit's experience at the circus. I was reminded of Tom's retelling of a scene in a play directed by a favorite local director and playwright, Mark Jackson. The scene from that play is a Russian director auditioning young actors for his theater. A young woman (Maria Babanova) wants to join and offers to perform Hamlet at her audition. The stage directions are: "Without speaking a word, Babanova enacts Hamlet in its entirety in about a minute. It's

rather impressive." "Death of Meyerhold" Act II, Episode 5  (we have a book of some of Mr. Jackson¹s early plays). Mr. Jackson also wrote and directed a play about suicide, it turns out: American $ucicide (freely adapted from The Suicide by Nikolai Erdman).

I enjoy listening to an artist's process and for you to express "it's really hard to write (the play) in English" reminded me that English is not your primary language. I was impressed with your use of what certainly sounded like authentic (American) English.

I realized afterward or at least I interpreted that as a "white rabbit" we think we have a choice to drink a glass of water that is untainted but we really don't. We have a choice to wake up to become the red rabbit. The audience member that stood up and read the rest of your script was a Russian actor who was part of the festival. He volunteered to be a new red rabbit, so to speak. I feel lucky to live in a diverse, multi-cutural area that's brought even closer together by your work.

Do you see anything good in "white rabbits"? I suspect there must be. I think every white rabbit has an opportunity to become a red rabbit but can there only be one red rabbit in a cage?

Thanks for giving me a challenging perspective in a thoughtful, compelling way. Your work inspires me to create touching work.


P.S. The details you provided about yourself made you all the more human and I was curious about the sour orange trees you mentioned in Shiraz. We have a Meyer lemon tree and just planted a lime tree at our home.

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