Making Art in 2017: John Doyle & Bob Weick on Marx in Soho
Name: John Doyle & Bob Weick
Company: Iron Age Theatre/Radical Acts
Show in 2017 Festival: Marx in Soho
Roles: Director & Actor, respectively
Past Festival shows: Dutchman (2002), Marx in Soho (2004), The Interrogation of Nathan Hale (2004), Shakesploitation (2005), Shakesploitation II (2007), Waiting for the Ship from Delos (2008), Citizen Paine (2009), Christie in Love (2011), Fringe Wraiths [Digital installation] (2012), Found Fringe [Digital Installation] (2013), A Great War (2015), A Runaway, A Soldier and a Snowball Fight (2016), The Return of Fringe Wraiths [Digital Fringe] (2016).
FringeArts: Tell us about your show.
John Doyle: Bob Weick and I decided to produce Marx in Soho in 2004 and with the gracious permission of Howard Zinn, noted author and historian, we have been presenting the play across the country for thirteen years. We are about to begin a tour to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth and this is our kickoff. We are discussing the need for humans to see themselves in community and to look past the political divide to understand the humane ideas behind Marx and more broadly, the need for a more compassionate world.
Bob Weick: Zinn wrote the play after the fall or the Berlin Wall and the proclamation that communism has failed, Marx is dead, and capitalism has triumphed. Is that true? Many would answer, yes. The play challenges that narrative. The work defends Marx from his critics and shows a surprising view of what could be . . . but has yet to be tried.
FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year?
Bob Weick: This play is a living work of art speaking to this day and time. Remarkable in its relevance. It proposes answers to the most pressing problems we see in the news every day.
John Doyle: The past year’s political life has made Marx in Soho much more important as a play. The banner of Radical Acts, as co-producer of this production, is an invention that is speaking to the troubling political climate. Not just the issues of political policy or position but the nature of our political discourse and the power of the consumer culture and economy that drive it. I feel compelled to create work with more women, people of color and ability, to focus as we always have, on issues of gender and to bring historical voices of brilliant thinkers into the conversation that is populated by short term, unreflected pundits and extremists.
FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art provided solace or refuge from outside troubles.
Bob Weick: The work of Almanac Dance Circus theatre, Exile 2588, with music produced by Chickabiddy. A moving work from last year’s fringe. Beautiful, stirring, uplifting in its grace. I leapt to my feet at its conclusion.
John Doyle: I am a teacher as well as a theater artist. I bring my students into relationship with art for this purpose, in particular encountering works like Peaceable Kingdom, Markus and Emma, Constellations, Playland, and When the Rain Stops Falling, but I fear that the word “solace” and “refuge” can be interpreted as retreat. Art is revolution and engaging and cathartic and that is a way of facing the issues and trouble, not taking refuge from them. I bring people into the arts to give them refuge from their personal struggles and their aesthetic, intellectual or emotional confusion and help to build them up. I don’t bring them into my work for solace. All of our work is about confronting the problems that overflow in our world. By confrontation and consideration of the ideas, we can grow armor to be defended from those problems and continue to try to solve them.
Marx in Soho
Iron Age Theatre/Radical Acts
$15 / 70 minutes
Sept. 6-7, 10, 14, 16-18, 22 @ Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square