GROUP PROJECT, written and directed by Lindsay Goss, September 8-18, 2022, Temple University
Presented as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival
(Photo credit Linda Johnson)
School is supposed to teach you how to solve the problems of the future -- but what if the problem is that you want to solve for something new?
GROUP PROJECT is a new work written and directed by Lindsay Goss in collaboration with a cohort of Temple University theater students. The play itself features a group of high school students, abandoned by adult supervision, who find themselves faced with a test they feel doomed to fail. Do they have what it takes to pass? What happens if they don't?
GROUP PROJECT was unexpected. We’d been planning to do a different play, and then we couldn’t. It was April, nearly summer break, and while we didn’t have a play anymore, we did have a set, a cast, a lot of disappointment, and the first slot in the fall season. Why not make something out of all that? I let our situation ask me some questions. Our set was a classroom, and a classroom is a place for learning—but learning what? A classroom typically implies that someone has the authority to teach. In our current moment, who is that? Where does their authority come from and can they be trusted? We were grappling with the loss of a world we’d hoped to occupy. When the world you’re in is taken from you, or revealed as somewhere you were never meant to be, where do you go? How do you find another? How do you turn to and occupy a world that hasn’t been built yet, one that may not be able to look like the one you’re leaving? What if, to inhabit that world, you have to become some other person?
Between June and now I wrote this play, with the cast and for the cast, and then we built the world together on this stage. The premise is simple, and it's meant to be funny. I think it is about hope, but I only believe in the kind of hope Chris Hedges describes: “Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. It is not about the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and more potent hope becomes.
"Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness, the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on all of us. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope's power. Hope demands for others what we demand for ourselves. Hope does not separate us from them. Hope sees in our enemy our own face.”
I try to feel this kind of hope, and sometimes making theater helps.