Friday, December 9, 2016

Blog HIjack: Genesis and the Keystone

Taking over Theater in the Now is Sam Tilles to talk about the journey of his new play Genesis!

Hey Folks! My name is Sam Tilles— I’m a playwright based in Harlem, and am producing a new piece I’ve been writing the past few years.

It is called Genesis, and is based on a month-long journey I took down the Keystone XL Pipeline route.  It is entirely in rhymed verse, and is a farcical adaptation of the Bible’s creation myth.  The play is a joyful, poetic exploration of civilization, and provides a new look at how our culture relates to nature, government, mind, and spirit.

The story revolves around King Jehova and his endeavors in creating Eden, the utopic realm of his imagination.  To give you a sense of what we’re dealing with, I’ve included a clip of the script below:

How moving was that moment in the past,
Eternal truth shone down from He, to last.
But time’s gone by, time’s hue hath been changed.
Each waking hour ever more deranged—

The fake clouds rustle again.

What’s this? An incoming premonition?

The king curses behind the wall.

Come forth lord! My spiritual ascension!

The clouds open clumsily. A long piece of paper is stuffed through.
The King stumbles through the portal, injuring himself. Adam embraces him.

O, it is my God! My lord protector—
Comes armed with more Truth for me to ponder!

Transition hath lent me an injured leg,
Wouldst thou, son, take this imperfect segue?

Through clouds, beyond the walls?

Don’t answer that.

The King spits blood.

Fetch me that stick,

Blood methinks you just spat!

Aye, the realm of spirit doth harm the flesh.
Immortals bleed, when with mortals, enmeshed.

Then why hast thou made the journey to me?

This scroll is—I mean, because I love thee.
And have heard your desperate, longing calls.

Nay lord, it is I who hath caused your fall,
No longer appear, my faith’s strong enough.

Very well, Adam.  My most trusted son.
Well, to guide you onward I’ve brought this scroll.

A scroll! What’s it say?

You will soon be told.
Many questions of yours it will answer,
Pockets of truth, sealed in realms of wonder.
This is the story of your creation,
My true nature is constantly mentioned.

A truer nature than I’ve seen in here?

Stretching beyond flesh and time my reign’s clear.

For your gift I’m eternally grateful,
But unable to read, I’m woeful.

Fear not, noble child, I’ll read it to you.
Thou thinks I give with no study, no pew?

The reading lasted till the rising moon,
But Adam smiled the entire afternoon.

King climbs up through the hole.

Back to heaven I go, take care, have fun!

Smile upon me in the realm of the sun!

King Exits.

People often ask me why I wrote an adaptation of Genesis after my journey down Keystone XL.  I think seeing the play will be a sufficient answer to this question, but I’ll endeavor to provide a look into how they relate.

On the journey I frequently examined the polarized arguments orbiting Keystone.  The power of narrative became abundantly clear; people seemed to support the pipeline insofar as they embraced the Fossil Fuel Industry’s myth of Economic Security (and its denial of Climate Change).

Through the perspective of narrative, the relationship between Genesis and Keystone becomes clear. “Yahweh” of the Old Testament designs the universe for mankind, and the Fossil Fuel Industry dictates much of the direction of our civilization.  Both forces are monarchic, and both advocate anthropocentric perspectives of the world.

Unlike its supporters, Keystone’s opponents adopted a plurality of narratives.  These ranged from the Indigenous Prophecy of the “Black Snake,” to Climate Change, to simply not wanting land and water ruined by a pipeline spill.  Indeed, these narratives differed, but the concern for habitable land and clean water unified them.  Their synthesis gave fruit to the “Cowboy and Indian Alliance”—something I found particularly beautiful.  

The anthropocentric parallels between Keystone and Genesis struck me to the core.  Could writing a play about Genesis somehow stimulate a more harmonious relationship to the natural world? I’m hoping to find out! If you would like to support our production, please visit our Kickstarter Campaign at (case sensitive).  A pledge of any size or a share on Facebook/Twitter would be most appreciated!