The Playgoer: Friday Roundup

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Roundup

...and weekend reading.

NYT Sunday Magazine tells us what it's like to work for years as a stage actress and finally get your own tv show: The Laura Linney Story.

-Conservative Critic hearts Conservative Playwright: Teachout on Mamet. Brace yourselves, "brain dead liberals"...

-The Royal National Theatre is no longer the only UK company to get into the live broadcast biz: the Donmar will beam Derek Jacobi's King Lear to cinemas worldwide.

-Actor Marc Wolf blogs compellingly about what it's like to perform his one-man gays-in-the-military show for audiences.

-And, finally, it's Fringe time in NYC.  Yes, our annual hit-or-miss blackboxapalooza is upon us, and you can get all the info at FringeCentral, opening today.


John Branch said...

Call me a doctrinaire New Criticism type (or whatever school of thought this attitude comes from), but I'm not particularly interested in David Mamet's political thinking except where it pertains to his plays, and if it does, I'd rather see the discussion go the other direction: beginning with the plays and proceeding to the political implications if any, rather than starting with the political stance and looking for signs of it in the texts. I mean, really: Does anyone begin a discussion of Shaw with an elaborate discussion of Fabianism, then go on to trace its threads through his plays? (Probably someone has, but it's hardly the usual approach.)

I've just skimmed Terry Teachout's article and will try to digest it, but I make no promises, although I'm glad that Playgoer alerted us to it.

Definitely glad to be directed to the Laura Linney profile.

Tom Shea said...

Teachout's essay is fairly well-thought, it's not a screaming diatribe against libtards, more f the denuded patting-on-the-head of someone who thinks liberals are waye-ward children. Of course, he makes points with which I totally disagree, but so does Mamet. If Mamet's new-ish political worldview is informed strictly by the Israel-Palestine struggle, well, I can't speak to that shit; he grew up Jewish in America, and I grew up Mick Catholic. (Teachout thinks most liberals side with palestine. I guess he thinks it's an all-er-nuthin' crapshoot.) But Mamet's later essays (like True and False) all sound like the revenge of a writer who got completely and totally screwed by Hollywood. My guess is that's where much of his "conversion" comes from.

Ken said...

Mamet is playing fast and loose with ideological categories in order to bask in the heat generated by the ongoing conservative/liberal war of invective played out nightly among cable news stations and blogs, while never ever having to get his hair mussed actually taking part. I do not believe that Mamet is now a conservative, nor do I believe that he was ever truly liberal, and certainly not "brain-dead." Claiming that he has undergone some great conversion is a bit of snake-oil salesmanship that would make Ricky Roma, if not Elmer Gantry, proud. I believe he is what he has always been--a non-aligned skeptic.
The disingenousness continues: Mamet claims that he knows he's conservative because "I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine..." Does he really think that a person of a more leftist bent wouldn't also believe that? His strawmen--utopian lefty dreamers sticking daisies in National Guardsmen's rifle barrels--is a hoary cliche that hasn't had intellectual currency since the days of Nixon's "silent majority."

And as for all his claptrap about the "free-market," his observation that govt. subsidy of the arts is merely a means to reward "incompetent champions of right thinking” hasn't yet lead him to yank his plays from all non-profit stages the world over. He only now insists that theater should be made in order to hear cash registers ring because he is currently in the fortunate position of making them do so. When young David handed his plays over to the Goodman in Chicago or Joe Papp's Public Theatre here in NY, however, I'm sure he didn't ask to scrutinize their funding sources. He was all-too happy to be a kept man, and would have poo-pooed any suggestion that he was only working in these venues because he was incapable of attracting an audience otherwise.

Mamet, master artist that he is (and for the record, as a playwright, I think he's a giant of our time--a recent run of mediocrity notwithstanding), has irretrievably fallen in love with the sound of his own voice and is intent on making every delicate ripple that passes across his cerebellum into a matter of great ideological import. Hey, if I could be assured of publication, maybe I would fill a book with such self-serving folderol, too.