“Let’s retire the real world. Let’s imagine a better one.
And then let’s make it, together, every day,
through little and big actions.” — LEAP playwright Chana Porter
We asked Chana…
we say this play exists in a world that is close to ours, but is not ours. And have talked a lot about this close-to-ours world being the world as you want it to be. What do you imagine the world to be, and what is the world you desire?
“There’s a quote that I return to again and again, by Ursula K Le Guin. She said ‘We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art – the art of words.’
I’ve been told “this is human nature,” “that’s the way the world works,” “that would be nice, but this is the real world,” all throughout my life. These ideas of what is natural, normal, and human are like a drumbeat keeping time through our daily lives, and we’re supposed to march along. But our world, and culture in particular, is a series of agreements, made both by the larger collective and by the individual, agreed to historically and in the present moment.
The idea that human beings don’t have the right to gather together and remake what kind of world we want to live in is ludicrous. It’s our birthright. We are here together, and we get to decide how we wish to live together. I think theater is the first step in strengthening our imagination muscles– and we’re going to need them. The old systems are dying, which I am not afraid of– they need to go. We deserve so much better. But this deep seated fear, that if the old systems perish the only thing that will rise up in its place is suffering and chaos– this is a limit of imagination, thoughtfully crafted to keep us slogging to preserve (while trying to improve) systems that were created to oppress and exploit the majority of people in our country in various ways.
The question that has been coming up for me a lot lately is: Well, who do you think you are? Who do you think you are, to expect the world to be so good? Don’t you know things have always been this way?
And well, I’m no one. I was raised to be a nice Jewish girl from the suburbs. I studied theater, not politics. I make a great chicken soup. And I’m so much more than that. I’m all the ways my received identities chafe and distress and expand me, I’m an energy field, a ball of light, I’m every person who came before me, I’m the dreams of my ancestors, and I’m an ancestor in the making. I’m a thinking, breathing human being and it’s my birthright, my promise, my challenge to question, to complicate, and to remake the world around me.
We live in a very important time. The thoughts we think now, the choices we empower, they are precious materials for a future we are co-dreaming.
So I want my work to make people feel more expansive, more free, more brave, more joyous. More possible! And I want them to take that feeling out of the theater and into the rest of their lives. That’s why I write science fiction novels. But theater is the most special place to collectively imagine, because we’re literally all in the room together dreaming the same dream. And that is how we’re going to change the world– by getting in rooms together and first imagining something different, without saying to each other (and to ourselves) “Well, that would be nice, but that’s just not human nature. That’s not the way the world works. This is the real world…” Let’s retire the real world. Let’s imagine a better one. And then let’s make it, together, everyday, through little and big actions.”