The Playgoer: For the Record

Custom Search

Friday, March 10, 2006

For the Record

"What Jim said was that he had postponed this play because Hamas was elected and Ariel Sharon was sick and it was a bad time to do it. I think that’s a mistaken reason to postpone the play. I am sorry he did that. I think it was wrong. I hope he reverses himself. I hope the play is done at the New York Theatre Workshop . That would be the best thing for the New York theatre community and for all of us.

"It is also to me very important to say that Jim Nicola has been an Artistic Director of real principle for twenty years. The New York Theatre Workshop has been an invaluable member of the American theatre comminity and has done magnificent service. And I think this is a delicate moment where it’s actually important that we all attempt to appeal to the better angels of our nature. It's not just a question about being against censorship--which we are—and again I think Jim made a mistake. I don’t think those were the right reasons to not do this play. But I think the best thing is if the Workshop and Jim change their minds and that’s what I think we should all work towards, because I think he’s a very very valuable member of the progressive community."

-Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theatre, at the New School's Thursday evening panel discussion on political theatre.

Now that I've seen the online archived footage for myself, I just wanted to get the quote exactly right that others have already alluded to. Upon hearing it, it was clear to me this is indeed a must-quote statement--for no other reason than it marks the only statement by a prominent New York theatre artist on this issue, other than playwright Christopher Shinn. I can respect Eustis's respect of Nicola and NYTW's legacy. But he leaves no doubt about the "mistake" of this call, and you can just hear him trying to communicate through third parties.

I can only echo what my friends here have said about this video: it is essential viewing if you're interested in this controversy. (Really just from 1:32:23 to the end, 1:43:12. Yes, the last 10 minutes.) Watch as three playwrights, a cautious Artistic Director, and a bemused moderator all squirm over what is introduced (by off-screen oldschool badboy playwright Robert Glaudini, god bless him) as "the elephant in the room." Watch the body language when the question is finally asked. It's so palpable that none of them want to talk about this. WHY?

And do stay tuned till the final cut-off, when the off screen voices of "the people" can be heard:

"We got this close."
"The last question!"

(Or perhaps not?)


Anonymous said...

I believe you'll find that those offscreen voices are not "the people" expressing relief over the question's being addressed, but rather Brett Leonard and David Rabe exclaiming how close they got to not having to address questions they did not wish to publicly address.

Anonymous said...

How many more days (weeks?) till we hear from Tony Kushner and Doug Wright?

What does it take for someone in the press to get them to comment on the record, or publicly decline to comment?

Mark said...

I wanted to call your attention to the latest version of the petition. On March 10--the day after the panel--Brett C. Leonard signed the petition supporting My Name is Rachel Corrie and encouraging NYTW to go forward with the production. (The whole LAByrinth crew--Brett C, Guirgis, Glaudini--have been very good on this issue.) Go and look.

Regardless of what was or wasn't said at this panel--or perhaps because of it--Brett's stepped up and taken a stand on this and should be commended.