Alice Tuan’s 2013 Radar LA Manifesto

by Alice Tuan

in Artistry & Artistic Innovation

Post image for Alice Tuan’s 2013 Radar LA Manifesto

(The following manifesto was delivered by Alice Tuan at the Radar L.A. Festival 2013. With her permission, we have reprinted it here.)

Manifesto Radar LA
9.26.13
A LIFE STANCE—Alice Tuan

From Cocks Crow

Chan:  I want to love you, America,
But you are acting like a cock—

Eating pills to make you hard, harder, hardest for 10 hours straight.  And then making choices from that state of outta your mind…reckless, erect, suspect–can you ever do it on your own again?

You do not want to hear this, America.  Cuz you’re tops, no matter what, you are entitled to it all—I mean, how did you get to claim the word ‘American’ all to yourself? When two whole continents are so named?  Time to call you something truer—how’s about USer—a person from the United States—Yu esser—

What, you don’t wanna talk to me, America?  Cuz I’m not saying what you wanna hear? Cuz of that amendment, which one is it, oh yeah, freedom to not give a shit?

I’ve asked politely, America, to buy you a drink, but you say ‘you got it.’ Declare your Independence, yes of course. Remember when we talked America?  To each other?  And we could disagree and not have to delete each other out of existence? I’ve told you this, many a time, how when you actually speak to me, America, those rare times you do, it makes me wonder, makes me open up, makes me believe that a free land can exist and then you, cunt, treat my words like bubbles, like fluff cuz I’m not telling you how great fantastic awesome your ass is.  And if it’s not about you and feeding your delusion, then there is no business, is there?  Just that little wet corporation between your legs that you’ve been convinced is some prize, that you yourself wish could be engaged and banged 10 fold more than it actually is.  Are your knees scraped from all that investment, only to be shunted aside for some other time—sucker got you to play mouth wheelo without even getting you off, because he told you how great how fantastic how awesome you are.  Do I smell a punt?

I want to love you, America,
but what is left? of the funds, the funds, wonder if they ever existed, those numbers, the ones, the ones that numb, elephants charged at heartless safaris of take and just take, tusks plucked to fill dusty displays, the carcass discarded, these petty victories of petty humans, qualify for credit, an elephant never forgets, did you?

I want to love you, America, but faith seems to supersede good, as if love were not love, as if god were not god, but rather: love an obedience, and god a surveillance—

**

It’s the Twenteens
2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
The Twenteens.

Seven years of Twenteens—
What shall we do?

Mark this time:
That shift happened in the Twenteens
That picked up momentum in the Twenteens
There was this movement that started in the Twenteens…

When everyone started facing the big issues
And started thinking towards big answers
The planet was getting hotter
The gaps were getting wider
Unfortunate countries burned in doom
Fortunate countries wasted resources and lived in poverty
Egos squandered community
Violence was the preferred communication
Indifference numbed truth
Empathy was on the extinction list.

It’s time to head Nowards
Towards now
Nowards.

Time for articulating heart break—a large part of all art, but then, after heartbreak, you are allowed a new plane of clarity, or at least envisioning the next path–

Carpe Diem, yeah?
Right now
Right this minute
What can we do
To make this moment count
To make this thought activate
Towards now
Noward.

All obstacles root from one clear maxim:
Capitalism trumps democracy.
Capitalism trumps democracy.

That’s how it has been
For the past 40 years
From the time we went from being citizens to being consumers
How about now?

Citizens:
Head noward!
It won’t sell tickets?
But it is burning inside
That thing you’re numbing?
You want to scream it out.

Go ahead–
name all the heartbreaks, break all the hearts, until you have nothing left but yourself and your actions, your thoughts, into practice, your art to best articulate what it is about now.

Leaders:
Stop politicking our country away,
The wars in the middle east for the past 10 years were gifts to China.
While we emptied our coffers and our infrastructures crumbled, China had a decade to build itself up.  Every time a leader obstructs  for the sake of obstruction or cuts from social resources  it weakens our democracy and China becomes more gifted.
Please LEAD, not DELETE.

What if we flipped the rule—
What if Democracy trumped Capitalism?

What if the citizens felt its leaders were making choices to buoy and lift the quality of public life?   That good feeling we get when we stroll a neighborhood farmers market?  What if the citizens had space to collaborate with the city to bring its uniqueness into being?  Had a habit of convening with citizens in a different part of the city, to be resources to each other? That the citizens could be given venue to express and be heard, could interface their ideas and share in a civic elixir?

Democracy trumps capitalism
Malls have a live performance space
Where folks are free to come and go
To make work
To express

Democracy trumps capitalism
Laundromats have a screening room for the masses of short films that exist in the world.  Original work is shown continuously, a constant festival while waiting for the spin cycle and the tumble dry to finish.
It’s called a Cinemat,

Democracy trumps capitalism
Empty stripmalls and storefronts, just sitting there, not being used, waiting to be rented, leased or bought are, in the meantime, given to artists to make and show work for a week at a time.  Pop-up Storefront Installations.

Democracy trumps capitalism
A monorail is built between REDCAT and Cal Arts.  Direct from REDCAT to Cal Arts. It doesn’t need to go super fast—45 minutes one way.  It just needs to connect downtown with the uber suburbs of Uburbia.  Young artists would not be so isolated and could connect with the ascending urban momentum of downtown LA.  City folks could more easily go see new work in progress, in that vat of creativity in Valencia.  Sometimes you can just go look and not have to critique, but know that it’s going on.  But most importantly, the conversations that would transpire, the minds that might incidentally meet on this monorail, the collaborators that could find each other to try out new work–public transportation as a moving salon.  And to see the city from those heights…

Articulate the heartbreak
Articulate your heartbreak
Then you will know why you numb
Then you will know why you run
You will know why you make art.

It’s the Twenteens.


Alice Tuan has written a pair of Shanghai Plays: Cocks Crow, as well as Private Rivals, a commission of Yale Rep/Binger Center for New Theater.  Tuan was playwright-in-residence at the 2013 Ojai Playwrights Conference. Three entries from her blog Alice in Shanghailand are adapted as photo-journals in Love of Sun, an online installation where 4 Chinese artists look at California and 4 California artists look at China. (http://loveofsun.org/). In the summer of 2012, her play Ajax (por nobody) was fully staged for the first time at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival and written about in  ‘The Shelf Life of Shock’ by Prof. Lawrence Switzky  (The Drama Review, F’13).