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Cognoscenti Presents: An Excerpt From Eve Ensler's 'O.P.C.'

Kate Mulligan, as would-be Senator Smith, implores her daughter, Romi (Olivia Thirlby), to leave her squat. (Evgenia Eliseeva/Courtesy)MoreCloseclosemore
Kate Mulligan, as would-be Senator Smith, implores her daughter, Romi (Olivia Thirlby), to leave her squat. (Evgenia Eliseeva/Courtesy)

Cognoscenti Presents: An Excerpt From Eve Ensler's 'O.P.C.'

In her new production, "Vagina Monologues" playwright Eve Ensler explores politics, consumption and other pressing societal woes.

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Editor's note: Once in a while, Cognoscenti departs from format to present our readers with ideas and opinions from thought leaders in various fields, from media to poetry and beyond. Today, we turn to the performing arts and one of American theatre's leading provocateuses, Eve Ensler.

Tony and Obie award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, author of the acclaimed "Vagina Monologues," presented the world premiere of her new play O.P.C. (“Obsessive Political Correctness”) at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 28, 2014.

Ensler's play explores the worlds of consumption and environmentalism and radical and liberal politics through the lens of a character named Romi Wiel, a committed "Freegan," and her family.

While Romi squats in an abandoned apartment, lives on recycled objects and dumpster dives for food, her mother is pursuing her own political course in a race for a Senate seat. The clash between their political postures permeates the play.

The following are excerpts from Romi, as she films episodes for her weekly show “Waste Not Want Not:”

Welcome to WASTE NOT WANT NOT. This is a weekly show birthing the new paradigm. Refusing Growth as the model, Consume as the method. Today we will be focusing on THE TYRANNY OF THE NEW.

Let's begin with today's chilling fact. Ready? Americans use 80 percent of their things only twice before throwing them away. Wow. So obviously we crave new. What is new? What is the hunger for new? New is shiny, unspoiled, virgin. It indicates no one has ever touched it before except of course the many dedicated hands that went into making it, but they aren't real. They are invisible entities slaving for our new. New is status. It is what could be, not what has been. It is exciting, heady. New is the apex of consume. Brand new. America is new, exists in the yearning for new, in the perpetual search for new. New things, new ideas, new icons, new stars, new friends, new new new. And when there is no more new we package the old so it looks like new which is all about packaging, but that's another show. Here's the secret about new. It gets old very fast. It is a seismic disappointment. It is a permanent mind f--k. Corporate new has built in obsolescence-so that at the moment you finally become impossibly attached to your new-boom, it disintegrates.

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Below, another excerpt from Romi, this time as she becomes more anxious about her newly acquired real estate:

Oh My god. It’s moving so fast ... Oh my god. Can’t stop. Can’t sleep. Fast food fast money fast wars fast talk fast dreams fast cash fast deals fast fruit fast mom fast politics fast talk. No present. NO now. Only then. Produce dreams, American dreams. Dreams that refuse regulation because they are dreaming more dreams dreaming themselves. I am an owner. I own this loft. This is my possession. Possess. Mine, this is mine. Oh my  god. It’s big. So much to cool off. Holes, holes in the ozone. Air conditioning melting the ice caps. Every 20 minutes another species dies on the planet. I am sure there were certain types of wildflowers when this day began and song birds. They are gone now. They are gone. And the people are gone too. The fisher people and the poor people the ones who live closest to the sea, the danger. The children who are swallowed in the rising waves of the sea, in the rising sea level that comes from the warming, swallowing them in their sleep. I am a murderer of poor children. My luxury is their death.

O.P.C. runs at the American Repertory Theater’s Loeb Drama Center through January 4, 2015. For more information, click here.

Related:

Eve Ensler Cognoscenti contributor
Eve Ensler is a Tony award winning playwright, performer and activist.

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