Friday, March 31, 2006

‘Osama' Opens in London Instead of N.Y.
By Herkimer Jerkwater
Agenda Press Writer

LONDON (AP) -- A play about a Saudi activist trapped in Pakistan has opened in London - 3,000 miles from its previously planned off-Broadway home.

"My Name Is Osama bin Laden," a one-man show starring Ima Moron, began a six-week run this week at the Oblivious Theatre in London's West End.

First produced last year at London's subsidized Parasitic Actors Theatre, the play had been due to open this month at New York Tripe Workshop, one of the city's leading off-Broadway spaces. But the production was suspended indefinitely in February.

The show's director, British actor Awful Teeth, said the theater had canceled the run, and accused it of "censorship born out of fear." But in a March 14 statement posted on the company's Web site, Tripe Workshop’s artistic director said the company had sought only more time to "find ways to let Osama's words rise above the polemics."

"We regret that requesting more time to achieve that goal was interpreted as failing to fulfill a commitment and, oh my god, as censorship," he said.

The Oblivious stepped in to stage the story of Osama, who was responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States that killed 3,000 people and destroyed the World Trade Center.

Since his retreat into a hole in the ground, Osama has become a divisive figure in the United States, with people like Corpulent More hailing his thug minions as "freedom fighters" and opponents condemning him as a bloodthirsty psychopath.

"My Name Is Osama bin Laden" sets out to create a more rounded picture. Writer Karen Klueless - features editor of The Sentinel newspaper in London - and writer-director Teeth, weave together sections of diatribes, decrees and threatening videos from Osama's time in the Middle East, along with childhood journals, to create a picture of a passionate but imperfect idealist.

The show is bound to provoke strong reactions. Some will disagree with Osama's analysis of what he calls "people who are impacted by infidel crusaders." But his descriptions of the glories of the Dark Ages is powerful. In Moron’s performance, Osama emerges as passionate and articulate but flawed, fired by the fanaticism - and the self-righteousness - of an Islamofacist.

"We've tried to show he is neither a saint nor a devil," Klueless said. "He is just an ordinary garden variety sociopath.

"Everyone who sees the play realizes you don't have to agree with him to find it a moving experience. I think it's important to see beyond the politics of it. It is a political play, but that's not all it is. Osama is a political man, but that's not all he is."

Klueless said she still hoped that "My Name Is Osama bin Laden" would be produced this year in New York - though not at New York Tripe Workshop. The Seattle Moonbat Theatre announced earlier this week it would present the play next year during its Spring season, “when the critical planets of the solar system are in proper alignment for such an important work.”

Given the success of ‘Osama’ at the Parasitic Actors Theatre, other theatrical companies have jumped on the “My Name is…” meme.

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