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      HOW DESPERATE ARE YOU? By Thomas Putnam

      One of the characters in our current play THE VIEW FROM HERE is faced with her husband walking out on her. Well, that's just the immediate challenge. The more enduring challenge is their inability to conceive a child. Twelve years they have been trying to conceive, to no avail.

      They resort to a unique method of fertility treatments. What that method of treatment is is not the issue. I was struck yesterday during the matinee with a brief dialogue between Maple and her sister Fern about how desperate they have been to conceive. So desperate that they are experimenting with this highly improbably method; but it is giving them hope. They're desperate.

      The neighbor's answer to how to get a child is simply to steal one from a grocery cart. Most people wouldn't consider this, but, well they are desperate. Maple and Stan's method is not quite so illegal, yet most of us—and those in the audiences this past weekend—have found the method crazy. But they are desperate. This desperation really hit me during the performance and got me thinking about what desperation can lead to.

      Think of Jean Valjean in Les Miz. Didn't he steal some silver candlesticks in order to feed his family. Maybe I have those particulars mixed up, but the point is that desperation can lead to acts we normally wouldn't even consider. I don't want to get political here, but I can't help thinking about MLK and the actions that he would never have considered until the situation was desperate. Those who are protesting in cities across the country, well many are desperate and their desperation is leading them to acts that others may consider crazy.

      Desperation is not a good place for anyone to be. Homeless, hungry, abused, stricken by poverty or racism, lonely. Theatre can call attention to such desperation and help us to empathize, understand, appreciate perhaps to a greater degree. Our current play can do this (three of the characters are faced with very real situations that are traumatic) yet it does it with humor. We laugh at Maple's explanation of her fertility method, but as Karin Knaus plays this role, underneath the laughs is the pain and frustration and desperation of this character...and we are offered the opportunity for growth.

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