Forgiving John Lennon

by William Missouri Downs

This darkly comic drama was inspired by the cancellation of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's commencement speech at Brandeis in 2014, the Charlie Hebdo attacks and my own personal travels through the Middle East. When an April Fool’s prank goes wrong, the Muslim students at a small liberal arts college file a complaint. Two professors deal with the problem by booking a poet from Somalia to give the college’s commencement speech. Fresh off the plane, the poet doesn’t understand the college’s political correctness, nor does the poet fit the professors’ preconceived stereotype of a Muslim woman. With the possible cancellation of the speech looming, all three are forced to confront the issues of diversity and the suppression of free speech on college campuses. Forgiving John Lennon was originally produced as a one act but is now a two act, full-length ready to be developed.