By N. Pressley
Two decades after Tony Kushner's influential Angels in the USA looked as if it would claim a revitalized efficiency for the preferred political play, there's a "No Politics" prejudice undermining US construction and writing. This ebook explores the mostly unrecognized cultural styles that discourage political playwriting at the modern American degree.
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Extra info for American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives
Is Kushner heeding this plea, and is this lachrymose nostalgia for an ideal that went hideously wrong what he offers to reorder the world? Society is better off with his jokes. (Rose “The Marx Brothers”) The Marx Brothers headline was largely the same when Washington’s Studio Theatre produced the play later the same year. Rose wrote, “There’s nothing that could pass for analysis, or even for thought . . In the end, 32 American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice all it tells us is that Kushner’s heart is in the right place.
Nor was this exchange an isolated response articulating wariness of the overtly topical or political. Brantley described Christopher Shinn’s Dying City as a “quiet, transfixing tale of grief and violence, set in the shadow of the Iraq war,” and then subjugated the importance of the setting: “These are not, finally, topical questions, though headline events like Abu Ghraib and the fall of the World Trade Center figure as backdrops” (Brantley “The Walking Wounded”). Isherwood’s response to Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo (which starred Robin Williams) resorted to the same politically diminishing move: I should emphasize that “Bengal Tiger” is not a civics lesson kind of play to be dutifully attended like a cultural homework assignment.
Such questions are tendered by Mr. Williams’s gruff tiger in an offhand, conversational tone that considerably lightens their weightiness. ) Similarly, Mr. Joseph’s play to its credit does not aspire to make overarching and obvious statements about the morality of warfare. It is more deeply concerned with the facts on the ground, namely how the baser instincts of human beings inevitably come to the fore in an atmosphere tense with the threat of violence. (Isherwood “Ghostly Beast”). Brantley’s discomfort with politics as politics was put on display in his 2011 review of Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism, With a Key to the Scriptures (2009): I never felt that the anguished souls of “Angels”—even politically loaded figures adapted from real life, like Roy Cohn and the ghost of Ethel Anti-Political Prejudice in America 41 Rosenberg—were only pawns of history, on the one hand, or of authorial manipulation, on the other.