Dog Act Response: Shawn Harris, RVC Bard
Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Leave a Comment
Shawn C. Harris, the playwright of Tulpa, or Anne & Me, uses Dog Act as a springboard to consider the power of naming, particularly as it concerns the ongoing development of her queer Black womanist liberation poiesis. It's a great read, with this whole irreducible paragraph at the heart of it:
The most potent use of voice is the power of naming. Through naming, we not only identify but manifest what is possible. Naming, of course, is not a moral process. Its power can be used for good and/or ill, to oppress and/or to liberate. An oppressive use of naming acts as power over - especially as manifest as power over others. A liberating use of naming is more like power of - especially as manifest as power of oneself. In Dog Act, for instance, there is power over dogs but power of story. It's a subtle but crucial distinction. Both in the play and in life, power over brings ignorance, enslavement, and suffering, whereas power of leads to the potential for wisdom, freedom, and happiness.
The movement of Dog in the play from suffering to freedom is indelibly linked to this power of naming, and I'm excited to see where Shawn goes with her poesis, and grateful for riff on the play! Often, the critical response focuses on the form and execution of the play, and rarely on what the play is actually about. Shawn's post is a nice reminder (Sean Williams' response to Lesser Seductions is another example) of how satisfying that difference can be.