The Playgoer: Tim Robbins on Isherwood

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Tim Robbins on Isherwood

From yesterday's Arts & Leisure letters:

To the Editor:
Re “A Play of Ideas Can Make a Difference. Discuss” by Charles Isherwood [Sept. 3]:
For the record, my antiwar play “Embedded” opened at the Public Theater in March 2004, two years before the New York premiere of David Hare’s “Stuff Happens.” “Embedded” played for four sold-out months with virtually no critical support. There is a hunger in audiences for socially relevant theater. It is not easy, however, to persuade producers to invest in shows that critics attend “with wariness or a sense of duty, as if lining up for a vaccination.”

Tim Robbins


I have to say I was not an admirer of Embedded. I thought it was too obvious, crude, and bloated to function as effective incisive satire.

Yet the man has a was first. And it did draw audiences, despite the critical pans. He--and the Public--do deserve some credit for staging a protest against the Iraq war when Bush was still polling well and before the 2004 elections.

1 comment:

PeonInChief said...

I read some of the reviews of EMBEDDED and concluded that the problem was not that it was agitprop (I can't believe I'm willing to use that word), but that it was bad agitprop. The SF Mime Troupe, which Robbins cites as the inspiration for his Actors' Gang, doesn't deny that what it does is agitprop. Good theater, entertaining, funny, inspired--but distinctly political agitprop.

What appears to be wrong with EMBEDDED is not that it is agitprop, but that Robbins staged his first draft. And it wasn't particularly good, entertaining, funny or inspired.

(I should admit that I write surrounded by Mime Troupe posters. When we moved, my husband corralled all of them in the study.)