Letter to the Editor: Act of protest seems to be lost art

Today’s paper had a shortened version of what I sent in- here are both versions:

Know what to do if person has a seizure; Learning trades should be option; Death penalty needs re-examination; Act of protest seems to be lost art
Act of protest seems to be lost art

Re “Theater audiences are free to accept, reject plays ideas,” Dec. 26: In a country that was forged through a dumping of tea in Boston Harbor and cauterized by a lone black woman refusing to move to the back of the bus, our citizens have grown indifferent to challenges to the status quo.

Our recent protest against smoking on stage was greeted with disdain by a few, indifference by some, inaction by many, and was mostly ignored by the press until long after the play Moonlight & Magnolias closed, and the public voted to ban smoking in public places.

Did we “win” the protest?

If you read the “Other Voices” column by Marsha Hanna — no, we did not. She was the victor and we were driving a stake through the heart of her organization by simply questioning why an actor had to light a cigarette and burn it as opposed to just pretending to smoke.

She cast herself as the protector of artistic freedom, and us as Fascist dictators trying to censor art, which is far from the truth. Our protest wasnt an attack on the Human Race Theater Company; it was an attempt to bring attention to an issue that has been destroying lives for too long.

But it seems that our society and Hanna has a hard time accepting protest as an art form. Its not a win/lose proposition. There is no score keeping — at least not like what we are used to in politics or baseball.

Protests are won when an issue moves from the shadows into the light, or onto the opinion pages of this paper.

David Esrati

Dayton

A lost art: Protest

In a country that was forged through a dumping of tea in Boston Harbor and cauterized by a lone black woman refusing to move to the back of the bus, our citizens have grown indifferent to challenges to the status quo.

Our recent protest against smoking on stage was greeted with disdain by a few, indifference by some, inaction by many, and was mostly ignored by the press until long after the play closed and the public voted overwhelmingly to ban smoking in public places.

Did we “win” the protest? If you read the “Other Voices” column by Marsha Hanna- no, we did not. She was the victor and we were driving a stake through the heart of her organization by simply questioning why an actor had to light a cigarette and burn it (as opposed to just holding it and pretending to smoke).

She cast herself as the protector of artistic freedom- and us as Fascist dictators trying to censor art, which is as far from the truth as the idea that “smoking is glamorous” – an idea that was foisted upon our country by the peddlers of death who advertised smoking as healthy for years.

Until November 7, Ohio allowed smoking in bars and restaurants and on stage at the Human Race. Some bar owners are ignoring the law now, and protesting in their own way, to the glee of many smokers (who will later lie on their deathbeds cursing their years of self abuse).

Ms. Hanna can try to wrap herself up as some freedom-loving protector of the arts- yet, when push comes to shove she admits she will comply with the law. How then is she not betraying the art? In the same way that they don’t really shoot people on stage, or drink real booze (both things we mentioned on our flyer). She will ask the audience to use their imagination to fill in the blanks.

What we asked, was for people to consider that smoking, even for 15 seconds on stage, doesn’t have to happen just because a playwright penned it, or the director thought they had to stick to the script.

Our protest did involve calling sponsors and questioning their support of a needless lighting of a cigarette on stage, and one even came out and protested with us. It wasn’t an attack on the Human Race Theater Company, it was an attempt to bring attention to an issue that has been destroying lives without question for too long.

But it seems that our society (and Ms. Hanna) has a hard time accepting protest as an art form. It’s not a win/lose proposition. There is no score keeping- at least not like what we are used to in politics or baseball. Protests are won when an issue moves from the shadows into the light, or onto the opinion pages of this paper.

Think of all the freedoms you enjoy because someone stopped to protest instead of accepting the status quo. It’s as American as can be- an art form far more important than smoking on stage.

David Esrati

So- be warned- your letter may be shortened-

and to those of you who tire of my anti-smoking tirades on this site, save it.

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