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OpenForum Blog:

"What does this REVOLUTION mean, exactly?"

Posted on December 31, 1969 in Mad Forest


I'm starting to realize that I've had revolutions on my mind for a really long time, now.
In part, it's our current production of Mad Forestwhich takes place in Romanian Revolution 1989. Then there was Monday's (Re)Acts performance where 8 artists created short works in reaction to different revolutions throughout history. On top of that, we've had a few major events cross our news channels over the past year: "Arab Spring," the UK riots, and the Occupy Wall Street protests happening in New York and all over the country.
But going back even further, I'm realizing that the term and concept of "revolution" have been fairly central aspects of my life since before adolescence. I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, where you couldn't walk 10 steps without tripping over a Civil War landmark plaque or battleground. Add to that the fact that my parents choose Williamsburg, Virginia as our twice-a-year vacation spot where your head is constantly filled with tales of the British Colonization and the American Revolution. After that, I'm realizing that it was no coincidence that I've found myself in Washington, DC, surrounded by American History relics inspired by our great war against our oppressors. 
So, taking a step back from all of this, I've been asking myself "what does  'revolution' mean, exactly? Are all of these current and historical events related? What part of our human nature causes us to revolt?"
I remember from my Latin class in high school that the word "revolution" is from revolution, "a turn around." It's a distinct and fundamental shift away from a system or an idea. The popular (or even, perhaps, romanticized) notion of a revolution is a populist movement against oppression. Revolution from a destructive tyrant, from a repressive system of social/religious beliefs, or maybe an industrial revolution that changes nearly all aspects of daily life.
Relating this concept to how I view the types of plays I feel are important and the types of stories Forum Theatre is focused on telling, I'm looking at the "what does 'revolution' mean" question in terms of "how we can live together, better." I think, deep down, these events happen when a group of people realize that there HAS to be a better way. A movement that says "We are not being treated the way we feel we should." 
With Mad Forest we have a story about the perception of a revolution that leaves everyone asking "what exactly happened? Who really led this movement?" And while many people wanted the change that revolution promised, what came after was a release of pent-up emotions and feels that became a whole new challenge.
As we look to the futures of Egypt, Libya, and the other Arab Spring revolutions, as we look to the legacies of our own American conflicts, the results of the revolutions discussed in our (Re)Acts night, and as we ponder the outcomes of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we have to constantly ask ourselves how these events can be used for good and how can they bring us together as a society that treats its members more fairly.
An Egyptian activist named Mohammed Ezzeldin explained what he saw was the connection between Occupy Wall Street and the protests against Hosni Mubarak.
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