J. C. Lockwood
Newburyport – Playwright George Larkin laughs when he’s asked, as a joke, how long he’s hated America. He’s heard comments like this before. In these politically polarized times, any writer dealing even tangentially with international or homeland security issues who is not sufficiently patriotic, not solidly positioned in the God-Bless-America camp, leaves himself open for attack — even in Los Angeles, supposedly the land of limousine liberals and America-lasters, where Larkin has been developing “The Baghdad Prom” for the past five years. The play, which gets a reading this weekend at the North Shore Readers Theatre Collaborative, is an account of life in Iraq, based on original works and e-mails and letters of artists in Baghdad.
But, despite the occasional screed accusing the playwright and filmmaker of being a left-wing dupe (one of which earned an anonymous e-mailer a brief place in “Baghdad Prom,” where he is called The Jackass) the response from LA’s beautiful people has been a deafening silence.
Larkin put out a general call on the main Yahoo bulletin board for Los Angeles-based actors, which has 1,200 active members, asking for help with the project. You might think it would be a no-brainer. The project is, after all, about artists helping artists. But, no, that’s not the way it worked out.
Here’s what he wrote:
“For the past three years, I’ve been getting in touch with writers and artists in Baghdad and getting their stories about what’s going on now. We’ve heard from our media, government, pundits and even soldiers, but we’ve heard almost nothing from the Iraqis themselves. I’ve gotten amazing stories of life there, both fiction and nonfiction, of kidnapping, robbery, murder and forbidden love. They’ve also written to me what it was and what it is now like to be an artist there, and how dangerous that was and still is. I think we have a real chance to have our artists working with theirs. If you’re interested in helping, or think your theater group would be, let me know.”
“I got nothing,” he says. “Not a peep.”
He reposted, responding, supposedly — “it was a total lie,” he says — to a request for clarification about the post, and got the same response. Nada. Which may be a surprise on this side of the continent, but not to Larkin. Despite the difficult-to-miss leftie stances of many, if not most, Tinseltown celebs, “LA is not a political town,” he says….