Looking for Magic

by Norah Booth

One of this year’s December 1 World’s Aids Day Tucson events was Invisible Theater’s dramatic reading of Looking for Magic, a play by Beverly King Pollock, 92. Pollock’s two sons died from AIDS in the early 1990’s. Originally performed as a full production in Pittsburgh, Pollock told the sold-out audience writing the play helped her deal with the death of first one, then a second, son.

Unlike the parents in her play, she and her now deceased husband were very accepting of their sons’ eventual revelations that they were gay. She told the audience at a discussion following the play she did not think that personal truth would have made good theater. One son’s death preceded the death of his partner, also part of her family, a year to the day later. Though this play provided many laughs, these were balanced by somber moments. Particularly disturbing was the reprehensible doctor who mistreated his suffering patient by withholding palliative care. Among other malpractices, the doctor would not grant the dying man’s request to control his own morphine dosage. Pollock said that the wrenching dialogue she wrote was taken practically word-for-word from the real doctor’s mouth.

During the discussion, one young transgender woman in the audience who identified herself as a Millennial said she personally did not know the history of AIDS and that she did not believe many people her age knew it either. Since people now live long, relatively healthy lives with AIDS many young people are not educated about the impact the disease had on societies when it first began killing. “AIDS is really not a topic discussed much,” she said.

Prevention is the lowest cost cure for AIDS. In the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates, there are still 50 thousand new infections a year and 1.2 million people living with AIDS, although 12% (156,300) are not aware they have the disease.

The powerful reading was accomplished by eight performers, most veterans of the Invisible Theater stage. The performance used only voice and body language to convey the pathos and humor of Pollock’s scenes.

This one-time production, directed by Fred Rodriguez, featured Roger Owen, Jeffrey Baden, Morgan Fitch, Pat Fitch, Steve Wood, Sarah MacMillan and Ellie Vought.

Promotional materials from Invisible Theater states: The play is dedicated to all who lost their battle to this insidious disease and to the brave families, friends and organizations that will not let them be forgotten.

[Image is from Invisible Theater’s Facebook page.]


4 thoughts on “Looking for Magic”

  1. While this video has been produced by very decent people with the best of intentions, it is the wrong approach to helping the homeless, and the 99 percent more generally.

    What the homeless need and and what Occupy should be demanding is government supported housing, decent paying jobs (for those who can work), and social services (especially for those who cannot work). This would not only be more humane, it would also be cheaper to the public than dealing forever with the effects of homelessness. The objective of Occupy should be to help the homeless by seeking to abolish homelessness.

    What is recommended in this video is the “right” of homeless people to remain homeless, but with the associated right to use public restrooms and relieve themselves in parks. This is the wrong approach. It will not help the homeless in the long run, and it will interfere with the rights of the rest of the 99 percent who have children and wish to use the parks and public libraries themselves.

    The makers of the video seem to be proposing a form of “homeless rights” to enable urban camping on a permanent basis. This will not work and will alienate virtually everyone; it also will discredit the whole idea of protest more generally. What Occupy should be doing is working to provide the homeless with real homes and to change government policy to make this possible.

    David N. Gibbs

  2. This article is a step above the usual Sunday feature story ‘slice of life’ puff pieces that Ms. Booth has been writing for years. At least there is an issue, but still no political consciousness, but that seems outside her intellectual range.

    • Once again, Zen Ben, you’re response mystifies me. In your last response to an earlier piece by this writer, you complain that a poem by her is “entirely personal” when that is generally what poems are supposed to be. Here you are complaining that her pieces have “no political consciousness.” If by that you mean that they do not overtly analyze their subject matter by quoting Marx and Lenin, I suppose you have a point, but of course they are not theoretical treatises on politics but proper journalisim and in that context fit well within the great tradition of activist journalism. And, by the way, how in the world would you consider pieces of hers like “Power to Truth: Beau Hodai and the Dirty Bastards Archive” or “Fatal Encounter: Deadly Use of Force in Tucson” some kind of a Sunday feature story ‘slice of life’ piece?

      • I’ll grant you that the other two pieces you referenced have more substantial subjects than most of the articles that I have I read by Ms. Booth over the last few decades. A more typical article is on some frivolous topic like edible bugs, etc.
        In terms of the critique of the poem, I don’t subscribe to the theory that a poem should be merely personal. It is subjective by nature but to talk about gun violence without referencing the political forces that prevent addressing the problem renders the poem functionally irrelevant. It seems more like a form of self-indulgence than an honest look at a social issue.
        Even in the pieces cited in her defense, I find them lacking in genuine political consciousness. Merely having a liberal sensibility doth not a political awareness make. There is a persistent shallowness in her writing that finally moved me to comment. I’m probably asking for more depth than I’m ever going to get from her.


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