|Reena Dutt in AIR RAID
|An artist showcasing her sentiments in a mainstream play...
|by Peta Cooper
At the time of this writing, over 1,500 Americans have been arrested for anti-war protests in their cities. Reena Dutt, an acclaimed producer, writer, and actress, takes comfort on stage where she's sure her protest against the war will be heard loud and clear.
The National Asian American Theatre Company (NAATCO) presents AIR RAID, written by Archibald MacLeish. The play will be performed at the HERE arts Theater in New York City. Originally debuting in 1938 as a radio play, it now makes its way onto the stage. Dutta portrays innocence of childhood caught up in war. It's clear by her talent that she will captivate the audience during this depressing time.
Peta Cooper: How did AIR RAID caught your attention?
Reena Dutt: Knowing MacLeish acted as cultural adviser to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and used AIR RAID to address Americans' fears of World War II caught my attention immediately. Being pro-peace as an artist made me wonder what I could do to protest the war, or at least educate the public on what war does to communities at risk, to me, that includes both sides of the war. After reading Air Raid, I realized how important it is as an artist to make a peaceful statement, and aside from attending a peaceful march, how I could integrate my ambitions in a form of expression in order to make a statement about why I protest. Air Raid gives me that opportunity.
PC: What is your role in the play?
RD: My role (Maudie) is one that represents childhood in a community. Childhood, in this case, is associated with a kind of innocence, and not knowing what the next step in life is. Air Raid is truly an extraordinary piece because each player is needed in order to tell the whole story of what goes on in the community, on a daily basis, and how war can or cannot affect those human experiences.
PC: Does AIR RAID speak the truth of what we're going through now as a society?
RD: I think Air Raid speaks the truth about any society. When adding war to that picture, there are questions of survival and reconsidering what is truly important in our lives. The thought of losing loved ones for a cause that may or may not be our own, is something we hope to never encounter, and unfortunately in certain situations, it is unavoidable. Air Raid tells a story that is important in illustrating a slice of life in a community that is part of the target.
PC: For the Americans who support the war, do you think if they saw AIR RAID it might make them think about the flip side of war?
RD: My hope as part of Air Raid's cast is that our audience simply thinks twice about the consequences of what is happening as we speak - to not follow along blindly. I want people to realize how their choices will affect the innocense being attacked in any war-situation.
PC: Can you see the side of the people who are pro war?
RD: This is a tricky question. Fear tends to pull everyone in interesting directions, and I am not one to force anyone to think in any particular way. I feel like my role as a member of the theatre community is to express my thoughts in the best way I know how.
PC: What would you like to say to the DesiClub.com readers?
RD: I am a new actor. I have never had the opportunity to integrate political views with my craft. As in any profession, if you have something to say, and the opportunity to say it without compromising who you are, take the risk to do it. Air Raid was mounted within two weeks - I'm sure the entire cast and crew can say we will never regret having taken this opportunity to make this statement in the name of peace.
To learn more about Reena Dutt visit: www.reenadutt.com
For show and ticket information: www.here.org and www.naatco.org.
Do you have any thoughts on this? Feel free to send Peta an e-mail @ Peta Cooper.