Let me start off by saying that in no way am I a critic of plays or is this a review. (we here at TUSB are sort of pseudo-journalists, which is funny because by no means do I consider myself a writer.)
But Thursday night I saw Pawn, the Musical, Stanford production that was written by Karmia Chan Cao about Afghanistan, Chinese-Canadians, and terrorism. And I have to say, I was impressed by the amount of talent we have here at Stanford.
Although at first I was confused about the relationships between characters in a play (they had a feminine white girl playing a
rebellious Chinese daughter/biker-chick), I was really touched. By the end of the play, there were more than a few of us sniffling away and wiping away tears.
Perhaps the most amazing piece of talent of the night was that of Karmia, who created, wrote, composed, and directed Pawn. Although not many of the songs were at the usually catchy musical level I am used too (I admit, I love Wicked), many of the songs were quite hauntingly beautiful. As an added bonus, Karmia herself was on the side of the stage rocking out (can you still use that phrase when it’s folk-rock?) to her own songs on the guitar, the piano, a congo-like drum (please excuse my musical ignorance here), and even singing along.
The play is actually getting quite a bit of attention even outside of the Stanford community. While I’m afraid the last Stanford production of it is going on as I type, I heard there are rumors of a National tour. As the first musical to discuss the conflicts of Afghanistan, Pawn says a lot about our generation and about how we are influenced by the war on terror, the tragic events of 9/11, and continued racial discrimination.
Overall, it was a very emotional experience. Although there are a lot of dark moments, these are balanced out by the message of hope and the occasional humor too (I loved the character of Lego). There was a lot of young talent in the ensemble, and I think Pawn is one to keep an eye on.