The Language of the Birds: Rosa Luxemburg and Me

Sep 3, 2012

Donna Blue Lachman
Credit Rebecca Thiele, WMUK

The one-woman show The Language of the Birds: Rosa Luxemburg and Me will be at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks this weekend. The play is about two political activists separated in time: one is Rosa Luxemburg, a socialist revolutionary, the other is Lillian, a modern political blogger.

Three Oaks resident and playwright Donna Blue Lachman acts as both women in the play.

“I have never done a play portraying two women, which means they walk differently. They talk differently. They think differently on stage,” Lachman says. “They have a different air about them. And especially when I do this back and forth with Rosa and Lil, that’s very intense.”

Polish activist Rosa Luxemburg advocated for socialism around the time Lenin was dreaming up the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. But Lachman says Rosa Luxemburg and Lenin had different ideas about how socialism should work.

“Lenin wanted communism/socialism, but he believed that it had to be governed from the top to the bottom,” says Lachman. “And Rosa said, ‘That’s just like the Czar. No, this has to be from the bottom to the top.’ And Rosa had very wild ideas for her time. I mean. she believed that ‘the masses’ as she called it—the people—can, if they’re educated enough, they could figure it out.”

Lachman spent three years in Berlin doing research on Luxemburg, talking to historians and people Luxemburg knew. In Lachman’s play, Rosa Luxemburg is serving out her four year sentence in jail during World War I — only a few years before her assassination in 1919. Though Rosa may be unfamiliar to many of us in the U.S., Lachman says thousands of people place red carnations on her grave on the anniversary of her death.

“The thing that connected me to Rosa, which is why people loved Rosa so much, is Rosa was a revolutionary with a human face and a big heart,” Lachman says. “She was an ornithologist, a botanist. She knew everything about birds; she thought she could talk to birds like King Solomon.”

The majority of the script is taken from Rosa Luxemburg’s writings. While Rosa is an activist, Lachman says Lil is more of a rebel couch potato.

“She thinks she’s an activist because she’s blogging and getting news and she’s pretty successful at what she’s doing,” Lachman says. “But as her boyfriend says to her, ‘You think you’re an activist, but you’re a clicktivist. You’re online all the time. You’re not really going to marches. You’re not really going out there. You’re just clicking a slogan on Facebook. You’re just, you know, clicking clicking clicking, all in the safety of your own home.”

Lachman says seeing how Lil changes in the play might inspire a few people in the audience to become activists themselves.

“It’s about ‘Please, take some time to understand what’s going on in the world,” says Lachman. “So you can vote and help make it a better world. You know what I mean? Not only vote, but do other things too.”

The Language of the Birds: Rosa Luxemburg and Me will be at the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks this weekend.