‘No Room for Wishing’: Going inside the tents

BOSTON — From October to December 2011, they were a daily feature on the news: the community of tents and tarps on parkland in the Financial District of Boston, better known as Dewey Square, that became known as Occupy Boston.
The protesters were both celebrated and reviled, their motives or message questioned, and they and their brother and sister movements worldwide became the subject of intense scrutiny and speculation.
But what really happened and what were the protesters trying to say?

Danny Bryck in the documentary play “No Room for Wishing.”
Photo: Company One

Actor/writer Danny Bryck gives us the answer in their own words in the new one-man documentary play “No Room for Wishing,” now being performed through Sept. 22 at the Black Box Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. From Sept. 30 through Oct. 6, the piece will be performed in the Studio Theatre at the Central Square Theatre in Cambridge.
The new play is a co-production of Company One and the Central Square Theatre, made possible in part by a Boston Playwrights’ Theatre Blackbox Fellowship.
Bryck, under the direction of Megan Sandberg-Zakian, has sifted through many hours of recorded conversations and the words of those speaking publicly and come up 90 engrossing, important minutes.
At some point he realized he had crossed over from becoming an observer of the movement to a participant, something that undoubtedly fueled his passion and commitment to the project.
Here, he uses the unfiltered voices of the actual participants to give the piece the ring of authenticity that was missing from the daily media reports. He takes pains to say that while text from the interviews has been cut, rearranged or taken out of its original context, no words have been added or subtracted.
As the show begins, Bryck festoons the stage with simple white paper posters — the kind you might find an Occupy Boston protester hoisting — explaining the beginnings of the Occupy movement, a timeline of the Boston events, and finally the first names of the voices he is bringing to life.
His voices capture and bring to life the disparate elements inside the encampment: the anarchists who didn’t want a change in leadership, but a completely new form of government; the students whose sympathies lay with the protesters, but whom themselves might be part of the 1 percent and loathe to fully commit themselves to the cause; the homeless and the mentally ill, who gravitated to the encampment for many different reasons; the activists for whom Dewey Square became a natural extension of everything they had been doing their whole lives; and even the drug dealers and the thieves, and the community’s efforts to deal with them.
He leads us through the politics of the event, including the tensions created when the encampment spilled onto the Rose Kennedy Greenway.
As a gifted actor, Bryck infuses the words with the feelings and emotions he observed while transcribing them, and shifts effortlessly from character to character.
There is Kwame, the 77-year-old “scientific socialist,” who doesn’t have a problem with the pot but can’t believe people are still willing to kill themselves by smoking.
Or “Detuned,” who describes himself as a “recovering lawyer” who has been unemployed for a year. Once one of the 1 percent, he is now on food stamps and Social Security disability.
There is Doc, the paramedic who finds himself called to the scene: “This is medicine for me.”
Angela, 58, is a self-described lifelong activist from Roxbury. “I’ve been cheering myself on the whole time we’ve been down here.”
And, finally, the last, chaotic moments of Occupy Boston and its eventual eviction.
The play’s title comes from a lyric (“There’s no room for wishing”) in the song “Dewey Square,” written by Ruby Rose Fox and played by Bryck near the end of the show.
Using several voices, Bryck makes it clear that what happened last fall was not just an anomaly, but the beginnings of something that will rise again in another time and place, that Occupy Boston was simply “the end of Chapter 1.”
“No Room for Wishing,” written and performed by Danny Bryck. Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. At the Black Box Theater at the Boston Center for the Arts through Sept. 22. For tickets, call 617 933-8600 or go to http://www.BostonTheatre.Scene.com