Approaching the Other

This is not a play about a school shooting, nor is it a morality play about the rightness or wrongness of this action. The playwright knows it is an act of terror; the character knows it is “bad”; the audience knows it: everyone knows it.

In the discussion of approaching this subject matter, I can only talk about my approach as a performer and the subjects that matter to me. This part, my acting in this part, is my attempt to understand and to portray the “other”. Here, I am not using the word other in an acting sense, where every character is a chance to step into the shoes of an other, but “other” in the sense of the outcast, the excluded, the irrational, the queer.

In the media’s portrayal of this story, the language used to describe Sebastian and his actions painted him in the light of the mentally unstable, the evil, the “other”.

“I am not a fucking psycho.”

My engagement with this subject matter is different.

This is not a play about Sebastian. He tells a story.

I, too, have my own share of having been the “other”. Being a queer refugee from Iran, I too have experienced rage. A different rage, but a rage none the less.

This is not a play about me. I add a perspective.

I am interested in the inherent Narcissism of the play. Narcissism, not in psychological terms, but in mythical ones. The myth of Narcissus. The meeting of the self and the reflection. What happens to love, to self-love, and to self, when all that one is in the eyes of others is a “retard, a geek”, the “other”?

“Again the only thing I’ve learned is that I am a loser”

The play for me is a chant, a ritual, a drowning of the self in the reflection, a becoming. It is an acceptance: of being the other, being the outcast, and within that, rationalizing what is evil without justifying it.

To rationalize the evil is to humanize it. This no-longer-unknowable evil is a person with a voice, with something to say. This humanity is something that we can engage with though theatre; for a moment, for an hour and twelve minutes, or hopefully longer– Democracy should not be, I don’t think, the “other”ing or the subjection (normalization) of the minority, but instead respecting the right of the “other” to remain queer. It is upon us to listen.

image of Sina Gilani by Tanja-Tiziana

Sina Gilani

Sina Gilani studied physics once, but now he’s a playwright and actor. His latest show is called In Case of Nothing  and will be on stage at the 2015 Summerworks Theatre Festival, and he is starring in our production of The 20th of November.

Read all posts by Sina Gilani

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