Monday, December 13, 2010

The lights, and the action

I was fortunate enough to witness the gradual development of "Who Turned The Lights Off?", from a draft script to the version performed at Punchi last Friday. Over the course of several chance (gives Himal the :P face) run-ins with the crew in meetings and practices, I watched as the story took its final shape and form.

The story arc is something that is not unfamiliar: Boy and girl fall madly in love, girl trusts boy, boy does wrong, girl is left HIV-positive and abandoned by friends and family. Sadly, no matter how common the story is, it still gets repeated way too many times in society, with the same tragic ending.

And forum theatre is a place where people get to change that ending, and in the process learn some important facts about HIV, and how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from it. I should note that you can never be too informed about these things, as a lot of us learned the correct way to open a condom wrapper during an audience member's (highly passionate) intervention.

Don't use your fingernails or teeth when opening a condom wrapper. It's very easy to tear the condom inside.
Another fact that people might not be aware of:

Don't use oil-based lubricants, like baby or cooking oils, hand lotion or petroleum jelly as lubricants with latex condoms. The oil weakens latex and can cause condoms to break.
(You're supposed to use water-based lubricants)

The play itself was brilliant, the story flowed nicely (nothing too overtly complicated, and no WTF?! moments) and the acting was superb. In a show with so many brilliant performances (from the butt-smacking 'Men have needs' guy, to the crazy Dad, to the depraved pharmacist who makes buying condoms near-impossible), the female lead (who, I think, was making her FT debut) took everyone's heart. The Awwws were free flowing that night, and so was the sympathy when her character found out her fate. Beyond Borders certainly has stumbled across some fine actors and playwrights. :)

So, in conclusion, the only way to prevent the terrible scourge of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections is the continued education of high-risk groups, the foremost of which is our youth. This is of utmost importance, at a time when even those in the know have a nasty habit of becoming victims.

Eighty percent of Americans with HIV do not know they are infected.
– Philip Emeagwali