Save Darfur

Friday, November 3rd, 2006 | All Things, Arts, Eats, Friends

B and I headed downtown to the Astor Place for New Work Now!, the Public Theater’s festival of readings featuring new work from emerging and established artists. The festival kicked off last week with Jonathan Marc Sherman’s Things We Want, directed by Ethan Hawke, about a lovelorn cooking-school drop-out returning home. Tonight’s reading — untitled — explored the more serious subject of the crisis in Darfur.

Public Theater

Newman Theater

Playwright Winter Miller chose to work with her colleague, New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof in dramatizing the play’s subject matter. Miller’s previously produced work includes The Penetration Play, which I saw — twice, in fact… long story — at the Mint Theatre in 2004. Kristof won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2006 for his graphic, deeply reported columns on the genocide in Darfur.

In films dealing with genocide (Hotel Rwanda and Schindler’s List come to mind), directors can portray a sweeping scope of horrors on a widescreen. Limiting the action to the confines of a stage poses additional challenges. Miller personalized the story by centering it around a trio of characters of contrasting background and perspective: a New York Times reporter, a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) aid worker and a Darfuri woman, whose personal nightmare has been chosen to put a face on the ravages in Africa.


Darfur has been embroiled in a deadly conflict for over three years. At least 400,000 people have been killed; more than 2 million innocent civilians have been forced to flee their homes and now live in displaced-persons camps in Sudan or in refugee camps in neighboring Chad; and more than 3.5 million men, women, and children are completely reliant on international aid for survival. Not since the Rwandan genocide of 1994 has the world seen such a calculated campaign of displacement, starvation, rape, and mass slaughter.

The actors on stage embodied their characters fully, despite never rising from their seats. Following the affecting play was a panel discussion, which included Miller, Kristof and NBC’s Ann Curry (who sat behind us during the reading.)

I would have liked to stay on, but B and I had made plans to meet up with M and L for post-theatre drinks at Public. Drinks became dinner. (This time, I opted for the grilled lamb tenderloin and merguez sausage with ancho spiced chickpeas and a radish queso fresco salad.) M broke into her mailbox for a bottle of pinot and the four of us toasted to future plans as the considerable bling on display sparkled in the candlelight.

There's 1 comment so far ... Save Darfur

November 11, 2006

Speaking of bling bling, did you know that Pat Riley trademarked three-peat?

Go for it ...