The Playgoer: "Seven Jewish Children" at NYTW

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Monday, March 16, 2009

"Seven Jewish Children" at NYTW

Yes, they're doing it.

As a reading, followed by discussion.

(Why does Arthur Kopit's great title End of the World: with symposium to follow keep coming to mind?)

Interesting choice. Basically with a 10 minute play followed by a full panel discussion (moderated by Tony Kushner, btw) sounds like the event (or events, 3 readings seem schedules) will basically aspire to be a teach-in with Caryl Churchill's playlet as a spring board.

In other words, this sounds pretty much like what NYTW proposed doing with Rachel Corrie and the stated justification for their announced "postponement"--i.e. they needed time to line up enough panel discussions to "contextualize" the issues for the audience.

So--will NYTW's attempts at reasoned controlled time-limited discussions erupt into shouting matches anyway, given the passions stirred by anything Gaza? Who will show up to these free readings--the pro- or anti-Palestinian peeps? And how many will actually go home afterwards and follow the link published in the program to donate to the pro-Palestinian charity Churchill stipulates in her rights contract? (Read the article to see the clever way around that one.)

Tune in next week when all this goes down.

Meanwhile--any hopes NYTW had of offering the NYC premiere (after US premieres have already happened in Cambridge, Chicago, and LA) has been stymied by the more outwardly activist Theatres Against War tonight! It's at Brecht Forum and also involves the "Rachel's Words" people who will be on the bill as well, presenting their own compilation of Rachel Corrie's writings.

As that performance tonight reminds us, the Palestinian cause has quietly become over the last few years a very active issue for the organized radical left in this country, from The Nation on down. You won't get a whiff of it in the NY Times or from the Democratic Party. But among those that are more actively organizing and protesting against globalization and human rights internationally, protesting the Israeli government has become non-controversial. (Hence why a failed student uprising at NYU recently could site various gestures to Palestinians in their list of demands--not that the undergrads themselves cared, but it was de rigeur for their co-organizers from SDS.)

I say that as preface to applauding NYTW for now engaging the issue. Since if you want to stay current with what the new generation of the left is fighting for, you better take notice of this. Gaza ain't going away.

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