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On the Lawn 1

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I’ve been mentally planning and half working on a play called On the Lawn for a few years now. The idea of the play is that Dad one day decides to move out of his house and onto the Lawn in order to bring the resources dedicated to sustaining his life much closer to the global average. He’s going to scavenge food and firewood and not come back in the house. Needless to say, this provokes a variety of responses from his family, from his neighborhood, and soon enough from local, and then national & global, media.

He’s had a career in advertising, and has set up the money so the family will be okay. He’s staying on the lawn for the duration, the idea being that out of a sense of planetary fairness he won’t live above the global average standard of living, which is of course quite a bit lower than the average white middle class suburban standard of living. His daughter is embarrassed by this, and she has a boyfriend who texts and likes Slim Galliard. The original impulse had to do with: what if someone so couldn’t deal with the thing that none of us can deal with but all of us manage to drive around all our lives, that he couldn’t take it anymore. He’s not a radical, not an experienced or even knowledgeable protestor. It’s more like a cri de coeur.

I’m wondering if maybe it shouldn’t be set in some other time, like in 1977 for example. Before the internet, before Occupy Wall Street. On the other hand, maybe setting it in contemporary time is for the best. Maybe it’ll go viral and KONY and like all that. On the other hand, that is striking me at the moment as being so untenable and unattractive that I kind of can’t stand it. It also seems like it’s out of step with the times, that it’s too un-ironic, too flat-footed and un-inflected. What do you think should happen, what do you think about the millennium goals, have you thought about a kickstarter campaign, a Facebook group, how about some kind of social entrepreneur thing? There’s the sense that it’s actually possible to take some kind of direct action, have some kind of actual effect, but that doesn’t really help this guy too much, in a way it makes it worse.

Here’s a bit of dialogue:

Man, you stink. When was the last time you took a shower, by the way?

That’s the smell of integrity, the smell of honesty, the smell of fairness. You think the whole planet doesn’t stink? And we’re still protected from marauding bands, from people with machetes, from rocket attacks, from friendly fire. Christ, I should hope I stink. You should too. Send every shower you don’t take overseas.

Is there a shower you can not take that won’t remove the stink of smug self-righteousness?

What’s that supposed to mean?

Which part is confusing?

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