Artistic Statement from the Director of Wild Boar, Helen Young
Is there any need to Self-Examine Further?
Wild Boar circles themes that should concern us all: story, the “appropriate” storyteller, journalism, a journalist’s responsibility, truth, and historical truth. Within this circle, what draws me into Wild Boar is this: what is it that compels a person or a group to choose self-censorship? As I circle deeper into this play, my own choices to self-censor start to gain focus. For example, early in my career, I chose not to report workplace sexual harassment for fear of losing my job.
Today, my self-censorship is subtler and more insidious. I sometimes choose not to bring up in casual conversation, even in the company of friends with whom I feel safe, the merits of an unpopular viewpoint. My choices are for understandable goals. I needed to pay my bills in the former example and I wanted, out of friendship, for a jovial conversation to continue in the latter example. Is there any need to self-examine further?
This leads to a related question, also explored in this play. How often, as we grow in whatever power we are born with or acquire, do we contribute to exerting pressure that prevents an opposing voice from speaking up? Like the time I voted not to move forward on a job candidate, did his age and viewpoints figure too much into my decision for “bad cultural fit?” Again, my goal was understandable. I wanted to maintain the simpatico I find rare in the workplace. Again, is there any need to question further?
But the fact remains that when we choose not to speak up, or to extend different treatment to others based on how much they align with our understanding of the world, we end up cheating everyone of an essential deeper understanding. The immediate outcome may not benefit us, no doubt. But longer term, more lasting and essential wants come within reach. I could have lost my job, but my voice could have added to mounting documented sexual harassment accounts, and perhaps have led to change. My friends and I could have deepened our appreciation for each other through healthy passionate debate. The bad “cultural fit” could have provided solutions to work problems the rest of us could not have seen.
It is inevitable we end up playing roles on both sides of the equation. In our everyday experiences, we are not far from the Hong Kong of Wild Boar. We make choices to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. Some of those choices touch on self-censorship or the censorship of others. Wild Boar’s challenge is this: we must not forget to examine and reflect on those choices. We may be giving up a deeply held long-term gain for a short-term smaller good. And in the case of an ideal, once it’s given up, it takes a fight to get it back.