The Playgoer: Censorship comes to Downtown

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Censorship comes to Downtown

What are we to make of New York Theatre Workshop's cancelling of a seemingly anti-Israel one-woman show? (Which even the celebrity involvement of Alan Rickman couldn't save!)

That the play, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, was originally produced by London's Royal Court says something--and not that the British theatre hates Jews. It says they believe in the very idea and possibility of a political theatre. Such commitment entails staging something, giving voice to a play that just might piss people off--including yourself!--if you still believe in it as provocative and powerfult theatre. When NYTW head James Nicola whines, "It seemed as though if we proceeded, we would be taking a stand we didn't want to take," he pretty much misses the point, doesn't he? I mean this is New York Theatre Workshop for chrissakes. How sad.

If Culture Project is smart they'll swipe it up and make a huge hit out of it while the once- alternative NYTW continues to twiddle its thumbs for a year, waiting for their alarmist subscribers to calm down.


Anonymous said...

According to the Times, Nicola said, "The uniform answer we got was that the fantasy that we could present the work of this writer simply as a work of art without appearing to take a position was just that, a fantasy."

This is a really scary precedent. Let's break this down to its real memeaning. Imagine Nicola saying this: "When a theatre produces a work of art, whatever a vocal segment of community leaders and our audience determines is the message of this work, is not only what the work of art itself is actually, inarguably saying, but is also what the theatre itself is actually, inarguably saying."

This is insane. Will anyone care? What about all the political playwrights this theatre has produced?

Anonymous said...

The article goes on to say:

"I don't think we were worried about the audience," [Nicola] said. "I think we were more worried that those who had never encountered her writing, never encountered the piece, would be using this as an opportunity to position their arguments."

What kind of inane rationale is this? Is Nicola really defending his decision to cancel a scheduled work because it might upset people who won't even see the work? Is that how NYTW makes its programming decisions?

Are these the people that Nicola thinks of as his constituents?

What a shocking failure of leadership. What a transparent display of artistic cowardice.

Playgoer said...

Damn straight, Dr. Let's run that Nicola quote again: In order for people who haven't seen the show to distort it...let's make sure no one sees the show.