The Playgoer: Quote of the Day

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Quote of the Day

"It's shocking that in New York City a major theater succumbs to pressure like this. This is a medieval notion that the arts in the U.S. need to follow the [...] theological line."

-Tony Kushner.

Of course, that was on May 27, 1998. The play was Corpus Christi. And the "theology" referred to was "Roman Catholic."

If Mr. Kushner does indeed win an Oscar Sunday night for his "soul-searching" meditation on Israeli violence Munich, wouldn't a defense of Rachel Corrie (the play not the person) be the perfect Kushneresque acceptance speech? Don't count on it.


Anonymous said...

What's your point, playgoer?

Anonymous said...

It is worth remembering that MTC announced it was cancelling Corpus Christi on May 21st -- and reversed its decision on May 28th. Why? Well, in the span of one week a letter was drafted and signed by NCAC, National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, New Yorkers for Free expression, PEN American Center, People for the American Way, Visual AIDS, and countless high-profile theatre artists, urging a reversal of MTC's decision.

Anonymous said...

Good point. Where are those organizations this time?

Is there a way to coax PEN into getting involved here? Anyone know who we should be e-mailing or what phone number we should be calling to try to enlist their support?

Anonymous said...

"Funding for the arts is becoming more and more difficult for those out there chasing money.... There's very little fortitude among the funders for any scent of scandal or controversy. The interesting thing to me about Corpus Christi was TWA's withdrawal of its support.... What this really showed was that if we're going to proceed, we need partnerships and funders with courage and reliability, and that's getting harder and harder to find."

Jim Nicola, New York Times, June 4, 1998

Anonymous said...

"New York Theatre Workshop will continue to showcase Patriot Act: A Public Meditation, an evening with media critic and political commentator Mark Crispin Miller. In this provocative multimedia presentation, Miller draws on the news, official government reports and the like to level a blistering attack on the political establishment, the press and America's culture of commercialism. In an entertaining sidelight, the young prestigidator Steve Cuiffo periodically chips in with magic tricks.
I think as theatre artists we'll inevitably impact the political scene. For NYTW, Patriot Act seemed to be the right project at the right time, partly because it's an interesting experiment in theatrical form. As far as its very powerful content goes: This piece really spoke to me and woke me up, and I felt it was important to give that to our audiences, since we are in a unique moment of threat to our democracy. Miller is trying to make sense of history, to wake us up from this age of consumerism and materialism and show us that we can't be complacent.
At NYTW, we always try to put forward strong, provocative thoughts. We never expect audiences to embrace ideas wholesal—-we're not indoctrinating them. We say to them, 'You have to have an opinion. You have to be informed. You have to think. We don't try to tell you what your ideas are, but you should figure them out.'"

Jim Nicola, American Theatre, September 2004

Playgoer said...

Dear Scribe,

Let me guess what you're insinuating--that I'm accusing Catholics of being fair game while Jews "get off easy"? Sorry, I'll leave that argument to the detestable William Donohue and his imagined "Catholic League". (Major player in Corpus Christi spat.)
However, I realize that leaving Kushner's "theology" term intact may have distracted from my point. There's really no "theological" issue at stake at all with "Rachel Corrie". JudaISM is not criticized in the play, I assume.
Put plainly, I'm challenging Kushner to explain if caving to the "Roman Catholic" party line is particularly worse than to the pro-Israel party line. And I hope we can talk about pro- and anti-Israel in terms separate from Jewish theology. (Yes, I know that itself is still a BIG question out there.)