The Cost: Compassion Wins Over Power 3 to 1


(DGIwire) — What is more important to voters: Power or Compassion? A New York City audience recently made its voice heard by decisively voting for Compassion. The votes were cast just before a reading of The Cost, a stage play written by Aquaila Shene Barnes and directed by Barbara Montgomery, at the BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center.

In The Cost, there is a political race between rising star Thomas Foster Jr. and two-term incumbent James Baker. Through the lens of the Foster campaign, the audience sees how this tough-fought election is influenced by political and personal pressures. With a vision to expand the experience for theatergoers attending the performance, the playwright asked audience members to cast their own vote—not for Foster or Baker, but in a mock election between Power vs. Compassion—before taking their seats.

oct-22-entire-cast-newBarnes believes one of the most exciting things for a playwright is to watch audience members lean forward in their seats, knowing they are fully engaged and wanting to know what will happen next—a phenomenon she witnessed at the October 22 reading. She felt equally rewarded by the discussions stirred following the performance.   Audience members reflected on the main character’s inner struggle to live her most authentic life. One attendee shared that the play awakened in her the many times she put aside her heart’s desire for what others expected of her. Another said the play inspired him to value more deeply what is most important in life.

“I feel the play is a microcosm of the human condition; we all make choices and sometimes we pay a price for those choices. But the lovely thing about theater is the opportunity for social transformation in a creative way,” Barnes says. “The Cost explores politics, family and relationships as it offers a container for audiences to explore the responsibility of the choices we make—not only from a judgmental perspective, but also perhaps from a more compassionate stance. I would love to see The Cost produced in regional theaters and colleges across the country.”

Following the staged reading, director Barbara Montgomery was similarly enthusiastic. “As I approach five decades as a professional actor and now director, The Cost is the first play I’ve been with from its early writing and thoughts to now,” she remarked. “As I continue to pilgrim on this creative journey of mine, I am excited by the new works of playwrights such as Aquaila. She has a voice the world needs to hear.”

Those seeking to discuss production opportunities for The Cost please contact Aquaila Shene Barnes at