The Relevance and Power of One Flea Spare
I recently found this awesome article, from the New York Times, discussing the power of Naomi Wallace's work in general.
It then, quickly, goes into a deeper discussion of One Flea Spare and its relevance to today.
New York Times Article
I found this paragraph on page 3 of the article, very interesting and useful in my comparisons/parellels of the time of the play and today.
" 'It was actually the Los Angeles riots in 1992 that started Wallace on ''One Flea Spare.'' ''I'd been reading Daniel Defoe's 'Journal of the Plague Year' when the riots broke out,'' she recalls, ''and I began to see them both - L.A. and the London plague - as the same event. A time of crisis. A time when rich and poor get thrown together - and, suddenly, one sees alternatives. I began to think about what happens when the containment of a presumed danger through the regimentation of space breaks down, such as when South-Central L.A. began to 'invade' Beverly Hills. I wanted foreground a society in crisis. By writing about a time other than our own, it's possible for issues that have become locked in rhetoric, or dismissed as too overdetermined for the stage, to become visible anew.' "
Interesting enough, before I found this article - I had made my own comparison of the Anglo-Dutch war, the Plague, and our modern day racial issues. The fact that the riots that helped inspire One Flea Spare were started due to the "alleged" racism and police brutality of Rodney King enhances this theory.
We are a people who fear what is not the same. We turn "Tall Poppy Syndrome" on its head. We like to claim we practice equality, but we are all guilty of social reactions based on economic or previous social status. It, sadly enough, isn't even just strict to economic and social status - because opportunities are become more available to everyone we have to force these barriers even more. We don't want "their kind" in our class - basically. This applies to: Economic standing, social status, race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc.
Our excuses are unlimited. It all breaks down to a fear of what's different - it leads to mistrust, prejudice, violence, and abuse of all kinds. This play, while in the exaggerated setting of the plague with people forced into this room, challenges us to find that fear inside of us and still it. This settling of our inner selves will help us come to peace with our fellow humans. Then maybe, just maybe social class can become a thing of the past.