Conversations Not Fit for the American Table is loud, audacious and funny. Using mask and physical performance it sends up so much of what it is to be American in a glorious and enjoyable fashion – a modern Spitting Image for the United States. At the same time this new show also takes a very serious satirical look at spin, greed, extreme nationalism and fear. It’s a story of the manipulation and exploitation of a horrible tragedy. It’s a story of a mother fighting for justice for her son.
The show revolves around a story based on the events of the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida, an unarmed 17 year-old African American teen by a neighbourhood watchman in self defense. The case initially resulted in no charges being pressed, even though there were no witnesses present to validate the watchman’s story, due to Florida’s Stand Your Ground Laws. These laws legalise the use of force, deadly or otherwise, by an individual if they are being threatened as they are entitled to defend themselves and stand their ground. Trayvon was seen by the watchman wandering in and out of people’s lawns in an elite gated community late at night, wearing a hoody, and fiddling with something in his pocket. A full recording of the 911 call between the watchman and the 911 responder is available online. Trayvon’s behaviour raised suspicion in the eyes of the watchman and when Trayvon took off after seeing the watchman observing him, the watchman gave chase. In the following encounter there obviously was a fierce physical scuffle as the watchman did receive bruises and lacerations to the head. The incident ended when the watchman pulled out his gun and shot Trayvon dead. He was worried what Trayvon had in his pocket. Trayvon had Skittles in his pocket that he kept reaching for as he walked home from the shop where he had just bought them. He was otherwise unarmed.
TongueTied Theatre’s show is being directed by Lizzie Wiggs and will be performed by American actor Kyle Davies. The piece has been written by fellow American Sol Max, who has years of experience working as a Communications Director for a US Congressman.
The initial idea for the show came from the fascination towards the American political machine and social contradictions that Kyle discovered when he arrived here from the States. The thirst for American satire and parody – The Family Guy, The Simpsons, South Park and in some respects The Daily Show – is immense, and through the use of mask and the creation of a exaggerated world of Americana we wanted to create a piece that was not only cutting and insightful, but also highly entertaining and maybe a bit mad.
Along with questions about the right to bear arms, this tragedy raised questions about the new and highly popular Stand Your Ground laws and racial profiling. With the recent sad tragedy of the school shooting in Newton, CT, gun control is once more thrust into the limelight and our show sadly becomes even more pertinent and current.
• TongueTied Theatre presents Conversations Not Fit for the American Dinner Table at ARC on Thu 4 Jul at 7pm. Tickets are priced F: £8.50 C: £6.50 and can be purchased here.