Marx takes center stage

When have you ever seen the real-life character of Karl Marx in a play, on television or on a movie screen? Certainly not in capitalist America, which has spent more time and money than any country on earth attempting to prove his ideas wrong.

One of the 19th century’s most prominent figures, Marx (1818-1883), the great philosopher, writer and activist, has been unofficially banned as a subject for people’s culture.

The public has been denied the opportunity to see Marx as a real human being, with feelings and ideas, and all the challenges that normally go with life.

It took America’s pre-eminent historian, Howard Zinn, author of “A People’s History of the United States” and the subject of the new award-winning documentary “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” to flesh out this political icon and bring this giant figure of history to life in a play.

Zinn devised a clever premise. Marx is offered a chance to return from the afterlife for about an hour to clear his name and his misunderstood theories. In this short one-act one-man play, “Marx in Soho,” Marx displays a range of emotions, from his love for his wife and children and his love for humanity to his passion for freeing the working class from the yoke of capitalism; from the pain of oppressive poverty and his family’s health problems to the joy of the short-lived Paris Commune and the unflagging support of his co-worker, Frederick Engels.

Marx wrote, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” And this play demonstrates not only the way Marx changed the world, but also how Zinn’s talents as a writer and historian have contributed to keeping alive the history of people’s struggles.

The play has been performed in numerous cities. One of the productions of the show features Pennsylvanian actor and blacksmith Robert Weick as Marx. In a performance of passion, humanity and humor, Weick brings the character of Marx to life. In addition, with Zinn’s blessing, Weick has updated and altered the script to relate to current events and relevant figures in the world today.

In Weick’s performance, Marx appears in Ferndale, Mich., in a Methodist church, and quotes from The New York Times about today’s labor struggles and current government statistics proclaiming the extreme disparity of wealth.

Marx defends his theories, albeit complex and often misinterpreted, as being totally relevant to today’s conditions. He rails against the war machine and capitalism’s endless drive for profits. In this lively performance, Marx chugs down a beer between stories about his boils, his family’s poverty, his bouts with the anarchist Bakunin, his attractive housekeeper, the glory of the Paris Commune, the misapplication of his theories in history and many more moving personal tales that inform and entertain.

In the play Marx argues that there can be a better world and that his theories, correctly applied, are still valid, coupled with Zinn’s optimistic message that where there is struggle there’s hope.

Check out Weick’s touring schedule at . Schedule a performance at your church, union hall, school or community center. The show is very affordable, easy to produce and can be staged in almost any venue.