The Playgoer: Where's the "Outrage"? (Corrie in NY)

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Where's the "Outrage"? (Corrie in NY)

It's worth noting that My Name is Rachel Corrie has now been playing in New York for one week. And there have been no protests and no pickets. Oh, I imagine the producer's have probably received at least some small amount of hate mail. But after, say, six performances with 300 people at each, not a peep.

I'm not being naive. When the show officially opens on Sunday night, reviews and press coverage will be out there prompting response of its own. Frankly, I'm sure people mostly don't even know about it.

But it does seem to belie those old fears that the play would instigate an instant brawl.

One early press clipping actually comes from the New York "Jewish Week" with an admirably fair piece addressing both the show and the controversy. Notice this very important explanation for the lack of hubbub so far:

The current production, however, has not received any protest from anyone in the Jewish community. A possible reason for the discrepancy between the first, cancelled production and the current one, said a source close to the production, may lie in the differences between the two productions’ economic models. While the New York Theater Workshop is a nonprofit, depending for its existence on the support of committed patrons, the current production is a strictly commercial endeavor put on by the James Hammerstein Productions company.

Comparing the two “is like comparing apples and oranges,” said the source. “The New York Theatre Workshop has board members. It has subscribers. It has people who donate money. The current production is commercial.” Therefore, while the Workshop has long-term relationships with a variety of patrons to consider, the current production is a short-term enterprise, offering a production in high demand.

There you have it. Free speech is safer in the outright commercial arena than in the arts-friendly socialism-lite of nonprofit. Of course, it isn't socialism at all but some deceptive holdover from Victorian philanthropy and charity.

As Greg Mosher said: "If you can't do the work you want to do because of your subscribers...get rid of your subscribers." I believe ass-backwards is the phrase.

Interesting, by the way, that the specualtion in the article, by "a source close to the production," has to be off the record. I guess the producers really, really want to avoid being dragged into any kind of fight with NYTW and so are trying to avoid criticism. Either that, or their strategy is to try to fly under the radar and avoid referencing the controversy altogether. Note that their ads conspicuously do not boast "Banned on East 4th Street!"

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