Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Water. Gun. Argument. by Alan Haehnel is a thought provoking and powerful piece in a docu-theatre style.
An argument is a lie you choose to believe and defend.
Every year the students of Ratherford High participate in a squirt gun competition called Assassin. There are rounds, rules and judges.
It’s the oldest game in the world, right? Kids trying to shoot at each other with play guns? It’s become a national phenomenon, so what’s the harm?
If there was an actual school shooting, of course they’d stop playing. And a squirt gun would never be mistaken for a real gun, right? An argument is a lie you choose to believe and defend.
Why did we publish this play?
We feel that issue plays should ask questions rather than provide solutions. The last act of an issue play is the discussion afterward.
Water. Gun. Argument. presents a thesis that offers a lot of opportunity for in-depth discussion: ‘”An argument is a lie you choose to believe and defend.” Is a water gun always a water gun? What if it’s mistaken for the real thing? Alan Haehnel is a long time Theatrefolk writer and we are proud to include his latest in our catalogue.
1. Why did you write this play?
I have always been fascinated by the tension between one’s philosophy and one’s actions. In other words, why do we believe something yet act in a way contrary to that belief? I felt the game of Assassin, which has become a tradition at the liberal school where I teach, really encapsulates this conflict. How do students come from families that regularly preach against violence and guns yet gleefully engage in this activity that celebrates both?
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
Our actions reveal our true philosophies.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
Probably the blackout that comes just before the gunshot. Truthfully, though, this is a play that relies much more on the commitment of the actors to good, honest, vulnerable performances than on stage visuals.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Don’t let things like costuming, sets, etc., take up too much time. This is an acting piece and cannot succeed without a strong focus on acting.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
Water. Gun. Argument. is a play that will engender great thoughts and discussions for performers and audiences alike. Teenagers like to make some trouble; this play, well-presented, will do that, in a good way.
6. Do you have any tips for those who are performing this play online?
Since this is a play, essentially, about building arguments, having everyone speaking directly into the “camera” and not able to move or interact much should work well. Keep the focus on faces, well-lit; make sure the backgrounds in individual homes aren’t distracting.