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      WHAT IS TRUTH? By Gabe Hakvaag

      “What is Truth?” Pontius Pilate, John 18:38

      blo1928usyhn2I read THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT when it was first proposed as a replacement for Silent Sky, which had been postponed due to the closing of the Coolidge Theatre. I started reading and plowed through the entire play in one sitting. It is what we like to call a pleasurable read. The dialogue was quick, sharp and very funny. It’s the kind of dialogue you immediately want coming out of your mouth, especially in front of an audience. And look! There’s a male character in his mid to late 50s who’s sarcastic, cutting, overbearing and delightfully rude. I rarely audition for plays but I knew this was something I’d want to do, if I could make it work.

      But the funny quality of writing isn't all that made this play something I really wanted to be involved in. This play tells a story of a highly regarded essayist who has written what his publisher believes is a truly significant and important essay. The problem is that the fact checker, assigned to make sure the details are correct, unearths a mountain of inconsistencies. His effort to clarify the details devolves into an epic battle between a boorish and stubborn author and a relentless journalist and detective, with a harried publisher fighting to keep the project on track.

      These narrative details deliver the important questions of the play. What is truth? What constitutes reality? When are facts critical, and when are they simply details? If creating art means choosing what to include and what to leave out, who justifies the choices? Can anyone do this, or do you have to be accredited as a Great Artist?

      Great questions, and each perspective is given a fair chance to argue its case. But the answers are, of course, not so easy. Can they be answered? If reality is at stake, what then becomes more important? The facts, or what they mean? At church each Sunday, we talk about stories, which most Christians will say are historical facts. And I think of the story of Jesus, walking across the waves of the Sea of Galilee, in the middle of a storm. He invites Peter to come join him. And Peter immediately does. Until he looks about him; sees the waves, feels the spray, hears the roaring wind. And immediately sinks. What facts were ultimately important to the meaning of that story. Do the facts make Scripture the Word of God? Or does faith?

      [Note: The production of THE LIFESPAN OF A FACT has been postponed until the COVID pandemic allows us to perform it. ]

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