“Art is something that is going to help us
in the transition from this modern world, Now we are going through this deconstruction, this breakdown of modernity and we are beginning to see perhaps the horizon of a new way of being; we are going to have to change” –Daniel Weber
Daniel received a BA in Arts from the University of Minnesota. He worked in theatre and television as an actor, scenery designer and as a lighting director in the 60s. Daniel then went on to study medicine and qualified with a MSc and a PhD in Oriental Medicine. At the same time Daniel gained a Post Graduate Degree in Adult Education and qualified as a Somatic Psychotherapist.
Daniel wrote a number of books and completed his DSc in integrative oncology, where he continues to have an ongoing practice. More recently Daniel returned to drawing, to engage his aesthetic, his love for form and colour.
Daniel was a leading cast member
Harvard Crimson . November 21, 1968
RIOT brings the streets back into the theatre. Cambridge audiences that have grown fat on the delicacies at the Loeb, complacent with the truisms of Brecht, and satiated with the Living Theater, are about to be kicked back to consciousness. If you were in Chicago or Newark or Watts, you probably know what Riot is. If you weren’t, you’d better get to the First Parish Church this week.
Riot opens on an interesting enough premise as the audience is introduced to a panel of four “experts.” We are told they will conduct a discussion of race relations. All the participants are easily recognized: there is John Benjamin, a Jewish liberal who has been in the vanguard of the civil rights movement; Harley Marshall, the waspish director of a Christian anti-Communist league; Nubo Okuni, an unyielding black militant; and Willie Woods, the epitome of the Negro who’s made it. The audience is asked to play the role of their reasonable and sympathetic listeners.
But the members of the panel live in a kind of madness. They argue in the stratefied cliches we have all heard before with the impassioned logic we ourselves have all used before. Although they are the men to whom we have entrusted the solution of our present dilemma, they turn out to be nothing more than four struggling egos. Before us they perform a dance of death, for the riot is beginning in the streets.
The violence comes on slowly. Periodically, the panel discussion is blacked-out, and the rioters enter to threaten the audience. We are confronted with ghetto rats, miscegenation, and bayonets. A disquieting sense of unease forces us to abandon our earlier role of the enlightened, liberal audience. Each time the panel resumes, the absurdity of the very pretense of a “discussion of race relations” becomes more evident. All of the panel’s proposed “rational” solutions–individual initiative, integration, compromise, separatism–collapse. Even the experts are not safe.
FROM THAT POINT on, Riot is an intensely personal experience. Visually and sensorially, it is far more harrowing than anything in 2001. Through the combined efforts of choreographer Elizabeth Martin and technical director Robert Seay, I found myself trapped in the center of the looting and sniping. It all begins in wild exhilaration–radios blare, clothes are thrown about, girls scream wildly. Then with strobe lights and recordings, the shooting surrounds you. When it ends, just a few groaning bodies remain. Real catharsis is denied.
Riot has been developed by the OM Theatre Workshop of Boston, under the direction of Julie Portman. The entire company contributes perfectly to the total effect. Riot is born of despair and imparts only frustration. How you individually manage to work out that frustration is the real challenge of the evening.
The play presents all the old questions, and it shows the old answers aren’t answers at all. Visiting alumni who can’t buy their way into the Yale game this weekend would do well to catch a performance. So would their revolutionary sons. For the former, Riot probably means destruction; for the latter, regeneration. And for both it may be inevitable.