Donald Margulies Chats About Time Stands Still

PlayBlog   Donald Margulies Chats About Time Stands Still
 
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies (Dinner With Friends) was one of the guests at the Feb. 8 panel “The Secret Lives of War Reporters: The real-life dramas behind Time Stands Still,” which was presented at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in collaboration with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma.


Marguiles’ play, Time Stands Still, currently running at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, follows a married couple, one a war photographer and the other, a war-time journalist, who have returned home and are forced to examine their relationships to their work and each other.

The production, directed by Daniel Sullivan, stars Tony nominees Laura Linney and Brian d’Arcy James as the couple, Jamie and Sarah, with Drama Desk-nominated actor/playwright Eric Bogosian and Alicia Silverstone as another couple who are, respectively, employed in and question the morals of Jamie and Sarah’s line of work.

The panel was moderated by Dart Center executive director Bruce Shapiro. Photojournalist Santiago Lyon and journalist-turned-human-rights-activist Emma Daly also appeared as panel guests.

Margulies said he “did not have an agenda” politically in writing Time Stands Still, preferring to focus on the offstage war catastrophes that affect the relationship onstage.

Margulies, whose play Sight Unseen focuses on a painter and his complicated relationships, said, “I keep coming back to certain ethical dilemmas of the artist” in writing plays, including the question of “who owns the story [or] … the image” and the “fear of exploiting an artist to feed a career.”

He discussed Sarah’s internal conflict over whether to choose a career over personal relationships, saying of her final choice, “She owns it and I [as playwright] have no value judgment to make.”

Lyon and Daly are also a couple (though married, where the play’s couple are not) and spent several years covering violence in war-torn countries. Lyon suffered serious wounds while working (in his case, in Sarajevo in 1995). Their observations added an effective and poignant real-life counterpoint to the discussion of the play.

The Dart Center, a project of the Columbia Journalism school, “is dedicated to informed, innovative and ethical news reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy,” according to the Center’s Website, dartcenter.org.

—Thomas Peter

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