Monday, March 17, 2014

Level Up, Step Up, Grow Up, Man Up . . . Wake Up

Clancy McCartney in Leveling Up
The current run of Leveling Up by Deborah Zoe Laufer at the Steppenwolf had its final performance on Saturday night, but I'm confident audiences around the country are going to have opportunities to see future productions. Leveling Up is the creative work that demonstrates just how thoroughly America's new ways of warfare have become intertwined with the other dominant strands in our culture.

In this play, the phenomenon that so many of us in the antiwar movement have been trying to bring to public attention -- the conflation of innocent video gaming and actual war, especially drone operations -- plays a key role. An expert gamer is recruited by the government for his unique skills, youthful acuity . . . and naivety.

"Do you ever wonder if this thing was real?"

But this is not just agitprop for anti-drone activists. The play asks other big questions: What does it mean to have a relationship?  What constitutes fulfilling work? Do we really have to face the world "out there"?

From the after-performance discussion on Saturday night at the Steppenwolf, I could tell that this video-game-immersed young adult world of Leveling Up was revelatory for the parents in the audience and provocative for the teens there. As I reflected on the play in the days that followed, I started to wake up to how provocative  Leveling Up is for all of us -- even outside the trope of the video game.

Leveling Up  -- coming to a stage near you soon (if you're lucky).

MORE:

Leveling Up- Trailer

Download the Leveling Up Study Guide

Steppenwolf for Young Adults Artistic and Educational Director Hallie Gordon welcomes you to Leveling Up

The History Behind and Future of Drone Warefare: Article by Steppenwolf For Young Adults Apprentice Lexy Leuszler


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