Theory by Norman Yeung

How can you remain progressive when progress becomes dangerous?

Isabelle is a young, liberal professor of film theory. She creates an Internet discussion board for her class as a learning tool and encourages them to speak freely. A mysterious student posts questionably offensive comments and videos, testing Isabelle’s open-mindedness. Isabelle abides by her principles and refuses to censor. Amid backlash from her students and urging from her wife, Isabelle must decide on whether to take action against the online offender. She becomes obsessed with this game of cat-and-mouse where she and her tormentor blur the lines between predator and prey. The harassment becomes increasingly vicious and bizarre, attacking Isabelle’s personal and professional life, dismantling her ideal of liberalism.

Theory features Sascha Cole, Ash Knight, Starr Domingue, Qasim Khan, Kyle Orzech, Darrel Gamotin, Audrey Dwyer. The original production was directed by Joanne Williams and the workshop production was directed by Esther Jun.

Playwright’s Notes:

The political spectrum of Left versus Right is not linear but circular. The poles meet. Both the extreme Left and extreme Right have produced similar dictators and agony. The two sensibilities are separated by the thinnest membrane – any one person is capable of committing acts that are “liberal” and “conservative”. This membrane is the irony, the hypocrisy. One nation that espouses liberty to live however we want – freedom – can invade another nation because they live their lives differently. People who censor themselves for the sake of political correctness and fairness in public can joke about skin colour among friends in private. Yet they are not racist. My society considers itself progressive in every manner, from how we conduct our lives to how we communicate through technology, yet we can be unaware of how dangerous our idea of progress can be. If we force our progressiveness upon those who do not want it, they will fight back. I have always been bothered by people forcing their thought upon me. I have been guilty of doing the same. Liberal irony. I believe myself to be as progressively minded as one can get; fellow liberal people ought to be aware of the agony we can inflict. We have been warned.