Thomas Paine, that criminally overlooked paragon of civil indignation, wrote a helluva soundbite. Two of his pithiest are in the program of Ken Urban's new play: "God put hatred in men's hearts for good reason: to ensure justice" and "It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
Hatred toward, injustice by and protection from Big Brother all factor into Urban's play, The Female Terrorist Project, which, contrary to the title, doesn't bash women.
The Female Terrorist Project is the tale of a female history professor who comes under investigation for her interviews of woman terrorists. Hounded by the Department of Homeland Security and fired from her university, she is recruited by a radical organization of women determined to "bring the wars home" by blowing shit up.
Interspersed with this story are testimonials—culled from interviews conducted by said teacher (Deborah Conroy)—from female terrorists ranging from a Chechnyan involved in the Russian school massacre to a Christian zealot stalking abortion doctors. The common denominator of these accounts: no one suspects the women, even though, as stated early in the play, the so-called weaker sex is custom-built for terrorism. They're genetically wired with a higher pain threshold (baby's first water slide is a bitch for mommy) and possess an innate ability to commit to a cause more readily than a male (it does take a village to raise that kid, no?), and perhaps most important, members of the "weaker sex" aren't made of snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.
Other than a misguided attempt at further pushing his play's politics by making his fictitious radical organization overtly lesbian, Urban's play is a compelling blend of X-Files paranoia and disgusted left-of-center rage at a government exporting precision-honed terrorism around the globe. You don't need a weatherman to tell which way Urban's politics blow. Sure, maybe a more subtle, well-measured examination of this country's hypocrisy and greed would better deliver his points, but there's nothing subtle about what we're doing to the rest of the world, so fuck it. Our president is an asshole, his interpretation of his Bible is horribly wrong, and his administration is vile and corrupt. And the time for polite discourse about the terrible direction this country is heading is over.
Urban's play is anything but polite. It won't convince any of the morons who support our criminal regime's outrageous warmongering—and the corporations that fuel it—to wake the fuck up, but if it convinces just one woman to go out and blow up a Gap outlet, it'll be worth it. And obviously we don't really mean any of this, but then again . . .
THE FEMALE TERRORIST PROJECT AT THE EMPIRE THEATER, 200 N. BROADWAY, SANTA ANA, (714) 547-4688. FRI.-SAT., 8 P.M.; SUN., 2:30 P.M. THROUGH FEB. 26. $15.