The Playgoer: Quote of the Day

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

"The insidious, hidden underbelly of official censorship is self-censorship. Our playwrights and nonprofit theaters are living in fear (and are cravenly caving in to it). Only Cromwellian despots and fools close down mere plays."

-NY Observer's John Heilpern in his review (3/20 edition) of Lieutenant of Inishmore. While Inishmore seems hardly as political as Rachel Corrie, Heilpern reminds us even this playful grusome satire was passed on by heavy hitters in the UK--including the Royal Court!

Update: Okay, now souces tell me the Royal Court had completely different problems with the play, more to do with McDonagh's contractual demands. Heilpern might be getting his info from suggestions in the recent New Yorker profile on the writer, a flattering piece to be sure...Still, I'll still stand behind Heilpern's quote above, especially taken out of context!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, sorry that this post is anonymous but I don't have a blogger account. I saw the play in London last April, and have read all your entries about the "MNIRC affair" and many more articles.

I'm not American but decided to comment on this entry anyway - as someone who loves the theatre. I agree with Mr Heilpern's first sentence, but I don't understand what he intends to say by pointing out that McDonagh's "The Lieutenant of Inishmore" was turned down by the Royal Court. In my opinion, the problem with the NYTW is that they first agreed to show MNIRC only to back out later.

I think it's different though to turn down a play in the first place. That's done all the time - after all that's what dramaturgs are there for - and to call this self-censorship is a bit naive by Mr Heilpern. He doesn't seem to know why "Lieutenant" was turned down. It might have been for a political reason, but there are many reasons for turning down a play: it is badly written, it would be too expensive to show it, the theatre just doesn't have the required actors and / or technical equipment to mountain a certain production, just to name a few.

Of course, it might have been turned down for the (controversial)plot. [I've seen it - it's the kind of play that makes you laugh, but you're shocked that you actually can laugh about it.] But again I can only say that this is an every-day occurence. Dramaturgs normally look for plays that deal with a topic that is relevant to the audience, but that doesn't mean that they have to choose every play that happens to deal with a current political or social topic. The difference is that under normal circumstances the public never knows which plays were considered but turned down.

Now that I've finished writing this, I realise that I should have written to Mr Heilpern himself, but I still will post it here.