“The Light Years” ignites! After a stellar read-through, design presentation, and meet and greet, the cast and creative team are very excited for The Debate Society’s luminous new play.
The two families in The Profane are American. They’re also immigrants, as most Americans are or were, somewhere back in the family tree, navigating the difficulties of assimilation, holding onto some of their traditions and altering others, trying to maintain an authentic identity while becoming something new.
The action in The Profane starts when the daughter of super-urbane and secular Arab-American writer, Raif, announces her engagement to the son of traditional, working-class Arab-American parents. Plays about lovers from divergent backgrounds abound in the history of the theater. We all love a happy ending. But most often, when playwrights introduce marriages into their plays, they are looking for trouble.
“The Profane” reflects Zayd’s international perspective, his cosmopolitan sensibility, and his keen sensitivity to the often unspoken dynamics that can unite or divide people from different worlds. It is also, like others of his plays, a story about the sometimes maddening difficulty of being a parent.
“Who are the secular humanists?” Paul Kurtz, founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, asks. “Perhaps,” he proposes, “everyone who believes in the principles of free inquiry, ethics based upon reason, and a commitment to science, democracy, and freedom. Perhaps even you.”
Dan LeFranc talks about the fictional (kind of) suburb of Rancho Viejo, and how it all began.
Dan LeFranc: For a long time, it was really like a thousand pages of scenes. It didn’t have a story engine, necessarily. It just felt like more of an Ionesco play or something where we’re just here and this is what we’re doing and there’s no rhyme or reason to why certain scenes happen after other scenes. And there was a lot of fun in that. It was a lot of fun to read around a table. And I think Adam was also interested in that. Which is great.
“We know there's a play that exists between the three of us, and we will find it.”
The Debate Society’s collaboratively devised plays frequently recreate vivid slices of Americana, but they generally evoke periods from more recent memory, fashioning a vibe that is in equal parts cheeky, nerdily hip, and spooky.
The three of them stand before a crowd at a cocktail fundraiser last fall and say in slow, dorky unison, “Hi! We’re The Debate Society!” — their trademark opener. Delighted, we all applaud.