As curator of the Mix & Match: Fools for Poetry event held April 1 as part of the SOMOS celebration of National Poetry Month, I was quite surprised and shocked to see a stage prop gun used by one of the actors in his performance to illustrate a poem that spoke of a ship captain, high on drugs, who crazily threatened his crew with a gun.
The actor made an independent decision to use the prop. This was not a rehearsed part of the evening and neither myself nor anyone else involved in the event was made aware of it before it happened.
I have communicated with the actor to let him know that I believe his choice to take such action was reckless and insensitive, especially given the current sociopolitical climate around gun violence. He has offered a sincere apology to me, SOMOS, Mr. (Bill) Nevins, and the other audience members, which I accept as heartfelt.
I strongly regret that this incident occurred and that it caused emotional pain to Mr. Nevins and any other audience members who were similarly affected. It should not have happened.
Sadly, we live in times when we are all touched by the tragedy and threat of violence. Poetry and the performance arts offer a place to explore this unfortunate truth, but such exploration deserves care and forethought as it touches the most vulnerable parts of our individual and collective suffering.
This incident raises important questions for all of us to consider as writers, performers and most of all, human beings and community members.
Ariana Kramer, 2018 SOMOS National Poetry Month Curator