In a time of crisis, what would you fight to save?
An obvious first instinct is to protect yourself and your loved ones. But beyond that, what items are most valuable to preserve?
Perhaps a family heirloom, or letters, or books? Photographs? A piece of art? Maybe something not even in your possession—a national relic or antiquity? Something you believe must be secured so that it lives on for future generations—representing who we are as a people, a nation, a culture?
This not easily answered question is at the heart of the final play in TimeLine’s 18th season, Michele Lowe’s Inana, which caps off our year of plays new to Chicago.
Inana is set in February 2003, as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell makes a case to the United Nations that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, and the city of Baghdad braces for war. An Iraqi museum curator plots to save something dear to him and his heritage—the statue of Inana—so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands or face destruction.
Throughout history, the casualties of war have extended beyond tragic human loss. Architectural wonders, statues, churches and monuments have been desecrated. Paintings, jewels, religious artifacts and invaluable manuscripts have been lost. Whether intentionally destroyed, opportunistically stolen, or inadvertently defiled as collateral damage, these costs of war are difficult to quantify. How do we assess this loss of identity, the erasing of history?
Such treasures are our link to the past. They provide insight into how our ancestors lived, loved and struggled, into how customs and rituals have developed over time. They help define who we are as a people, where we’ve come from, and how we choose to represent ourselves for future generations.
In selecting our season, TimeLine’s Company Members were drawn to Michele’s provocative play because at its core, it’s a love story—a perspective rarely explored in tales of war. Inana isn’t about the people on the front lines, or the ones crafting war policy and strategy. It’s a romance, shining a light on an Iraqi’s quest to preserve the beauty of his heritage, while he also forges a fresh start with his new bride.
Recently, this play’s themes have become distressingly timely, with news coverage showing members of the Islamic State destroying artifacts at Iraq’s Mosul Museum.
Recently, this play’s themes have become distressingly timely, with news coverage showing members of the Islamic State destroying artifacts at Iraq’s Mosul Museum. Such heartbreaking and enraging reports understandably elicit feelings of helplessness. We hope that Michele’s love story will be a reminder, in the face of such devastation, of what each of us holds dear, and why.
We are grateful to have had Michele deeply involved in this production, continuing to develop and deepen the story and enthusiastically collaborating with our team of artists. Under the always-inspiring leadership of director and TimeLine Associate Artist Kimberly Senior, they have created a piece of theatre that gives us much to reflect upon and discuss.
In fact, you can participate in that discussion even when you’re not at the theatre! As many of you know, the TimeLine experience starts well before you take your seat, through our interactive lobby experiences. During the run of Inana, a portion of the lobby asks you to imagine that you must leave your home quickly, never to return. All your loved ones and animals are safe, but you have time to save just one personal item. What would you take and why? Share a photo of your item and/or a short description about your choice on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and be sure to tag @TimeLineTheatre and #inanaiwouldsave. You can view everyone’s contributions online, and we’ll also be adding the items and stories that are shared to a wall in the lobby so you can see them when you attend the show.
Thanks for all your support this season, and I’ll see you at the theatre!