‘Dying For Our Voices’ — Noble Intentions, An Unexceptional Failure

By Ernest Kearney — In our time, in our world, there is no more important battle than that for the truth. And the journalists and reporters who bear the slanders of “fake news” and the persecution of political forces, and the threats of corrupt and criminal enterprise may prove to be saviors of our global society.

So it pains me to write what I am about to write.

But I will give my honest opinion and it will be harsh because this subject is of too great importance to hold back out of hesitation of hurting someone’s “feelings.”

Dying for Our Voices, on stage at the McCadden Theatre for HFF’22, seeks to honor those journalists who have been adducted, tortured, disappeared and killed as they sought to report on the truth of abuses worldwide.

To raise the awareness of these crimes, to seek action from the democratic nations of the world to demand justice for these crimes, and the recognition that freedom of the press is the lamp that lights the way to freedom and progress for any country, is the show’s intention.

I believe that Raven Kras who wrote and directed this work is sincere in her passion for this cause, but she needs to pull her ego out of this enterprise. She needs to engage and exploit the talents and abilities of others if she truly wants this effort to succeed.

She cannot direct. Amateurs always think they can do it all. They can’t.

At the top of the play signs were set along the front of the stage on which were printed the words:


An actor wearing a sandwich board announcing “FAKE NEWS” enters and methodically knocks them down.

It was the first clever bit of theatricality and direction in the play. It connected and conveyed the theme of the work. It was the last one to do so.

Kras has an artistic eye, she shows a grasp of visual impact, but I saw absolutely nothing that would have me believe Kras knows or understands the essence of directing. Her visual constructs are presented in isolation: A slo-mo recreation of a woman’s torture, a time frame sequence to show the ten hours that Hatice Cengiz waited outside the Saudi consulate in which her fiancée Jamal Khashoggi had entered, unaware he would be murdered inside.

Both of these are strong visual images but neither are adequately connected to the drama due to the fact that most of her actors were difficult to hear from the stage and this was in a small venue. Often she employed off stage voices, the mumbling of these were utterly inaudible.

In another scene, a female journalist is murdered while a masked narrator comments on the crime. I think. Again, I was unable to understand what he was saying, his words muffled by the mask.

The play consists of some half dozen separate scenes.

The first is described in the play’s press release:

In battle-scarred Afghanistan, a young warrior poetess is pressed to convert into a “bacha posh” (living as a boy) to draw breath, and in doing so, embraces change.”

This dance/monologue performed by Kras is the singular successful segment of the entire work. It is well written and well performed by Kras and one suspects that she engaged the talents of another director in structuring it.

However, it has no connection to the overall premise of this work. It is not about the deaths of journalists or the suppression of the freedom of press.
It is a lovely piece and it is totally gratuitous.

A video at the end of the show, a roll call of murdered Journalists was well presented but once more left disconnected from the overall effort.

So my suggestions for Raven Kras are to find a producer who shares her passion for the cause and who can orchestrate and guide her vision with clarity, to find a director with the experience to transmute that vision into a reality on stage and to find a cast with the skills for expressing that reality to an audience.

But the primary need is for her to work the script with the input of others, like her producer and director and to make the script as worthy as the cause she has chosen to champion.

For that cause a…


bronze ribbon - Fringe Festival

Dying for Our Voices:
How Reporting the Truth Has Become a Dangerous Task

Playing During the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2022


Asylum @ McCadden Theatre
1157 N McCadden Place
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Sunday, June 12: 4:00p.m.-5:00p.m. (5:00p.m.-5:30p.m. – Q&A)
Saturday, June 18: 7:30p.m.-8:30p.m. (8:30p.m.-9:00p.m. – Q&A)
Sunday, June 26: 1:00p.m.-2:00p.m. (2:00p.m.-2:30p.m. – Q&A)

For Additional Information and Tickets Go To:



Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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