The Playgoer: The Playwright and le Président

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Playwright and le Président

Check out French-Iranian playwright-célèbre Yazmina Reza (the hit "Art," the less auspicious "A Spanish Play"), allowed up close & personal with the Sarkozy campagin, leading now to a campaign-journal book. (NYT even has excerpts, too.) Sarko does seem like one of Reza's hyper neurotic little bourgeois men characters.

Just imagine, say, Tony Kushner going on the trail with "the opposition"--my pick would be Rudy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a truly fascinating account of a presidency by a playwright, you should read Vaclav Havel's recent "To The Castle and Back" (there's a description review at I don't know if there ever will be a time again when there is an actual writer in the office of the president to report back on the experience.

I have to admit I'm prejudiced--I ran the Havel Festival and I've become friendly with Havel and the translator, Paul Wilson (he translated a few shows for the festival). But I found the book amazing. Instead of being a straighforward autobiography, it follows the pattern of some of Havel's plays--a fragmented narrative that moves in time, including repetitions of the same moments sometimes. Mixed in with found text (many of the actual memos he wrote as president), diary, and interview questions that have been somewhat fictionalized (the questions, not the answers).

Besides being very funny at times, the book is astoundingly frank about everything. I say astoundingly perhaps because I have to compare our current administrations ability to "lose" emails with Havel's delight when he has found all his old communications, which he shares with us, verbatim.

Half of them turn out to be frustrations about the little detials involved in Czech beaurocracy and the process of turning the government into a functioning democracy. And to hear about those first days in the castle--for example, when they found a secret wing with a teletype used by the communists to communicate with the Kremlin and used it to send an unexpected greeting to Gorbachev.

Anyway, well worth reading