Feed Your Head: “White Rabbit Red Rabbit”


White Rabbit Red Rabbit
Presented by ArtsEmerson
Written by Nassim Soleimanpour/Iran
Performance viewed on Dec. 7, 7:30 PM
Dec. 7 – 12, 2021
Virtual Performance via Zoom
Program playbill
ArtsEmerson on Facebook 

ArtsEmerson Age Recommendation: 14+. We understand that certain types of content could trigger past traumatic experiences for some viewers. Please be aware that this production contains scenes discussing suicide.

ArtsEmerson Accessibility: White Rabbit Red Rabbit will feature live captions throughout the performance.

Review by Kitty Drexel

ZOOM — White Rabbit Red Rabbit is not a production to be enjoyed. It is to be endured. It behooves everyone with the means to watch to endure White Rabbit Red Rabbit.

The production begins over Zoom. Attendees receive a link and passcode from ArtsEmerson. Clicking the link will put you in the room waitingroom. The Stage Manager welcomes you to the main room/the performance Zoom. 

Soleimanpour asks us through the Actor to participate in his play, but he does not ask us to be playful. What you do, how you comport yourself once inside the Zoom room becomes your responsibility from then on. 

There are four rules: applaud to let the Actor know you are enjoying/existing in the show; keep your camera ON; if you must walk away from your camera, place an object in front of the it to represent you while you are temporarily away; if you must answer your phone, place your index finger in either ear to indicate that you are momentarily distracted but will return to the production after the call. The last two are to ensure the Stage Manager doesn’t call upon a distracted person to participate when one cannot. 

It is important to stay alert and present during the performance. This isn’t a rule so much as a helpful guideline. You will miss important details whether you are distracted or not. It is better to pay attention without your phone to disturb you.   

White Rabbit Red Rabbit is meta. The Zoom room exists as a liminal space in which playwright Nassim Soleimanpour speaks to us in 2021 from 2010-ish. The script has received some updates for Zoom since 2010, but it is mostly the same script. The play’s purpose and intentions remain the same. 

White Rabbit Red Rabbit teaches its audience about struggle, oppression, racism, loneliness and human nature. It is not a happy play. The audience decides to be playful on its own.  

The theatre community has created a lot of angsty hearsay around this production. Yes, a new actor is used for each production. Yes, they’ve never read the script. Yes, the actor opens it in front of the audience. Yes, the audience participates. Yes, it is a matter of life or death. Yes, yes, yes. 

Emily Duggan was our Actor on Dec. 7. Duggan handled a stressful situation with aplomb and tact. Duggan took direction well. Anything could have happened. Duggan trusted us to be respectful. I hope we lived up to Duggan’s expectations. 

My fellow actors, no, seeing this production doesn’t prevent you from performing in it one day. Don’t be arrogant. The odds that you will be asked to play the Actor are infinitesimally slim; you are not so special that watching this production will negatively affect any audience you join in the future. See the show.

A fresh audience is what makes this production so special. The weight of the gossip surrounding the script is what makes the performance so intense. The lessons available in White Rabbit Red Rabbit are more valuable than your fragile pipedreams. See the show. 

If you are indeed so special, see the show afte. If you’re that good of an actor to be cast, you should be good enough to play a convincing mixture of ignorance and innocence. It’s very different to watch the show from the audience. Participate in the cultural movement. See the show. 

White Rabbit Red Rabbit attempts to reach its audience members, to awaken them, to educate them. It takes great discipline and daily practice to train a person out of complacency. Playwright Nassim Soleimanpour knows that he will largely fail. That’s the nature of the human animal.  Success is one’s last attempt after a series of consistent but determinted failures. 

White Rabbit Red Rabbit does not take its name from Alice in Wonderland. The play is trippy like the Jefferson Airplane song. 

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