Play…Right?

November 8, 2008 § Leave a comment

Quick, name a famously left-wing playwright.  That didn’t take long, did it?  Now name a moderately prominent conservative playwright.

Have you thought of one yet?

How about now?

Good luck.  This week, Terry Teachout writes for the Wall Street Journal on the prevailing ideological slant of nearly all the “political” or “opinionated” theater being produced in the US and Britain- liberal, liberal, liberal.  He’s not deriding the politics of any of these writers, directors, or producers, however- his main concern is to figure out who’s stifling all those creative conservative voices of the stage out there.  Well, it turns out that it’s no one. 
The general consensus from artistic directors and producers is that conservatives simply don’t write plays about being conservative the way liberals write plays about being liberal.  Teachout’s critique of these “liberal for the sake of liberal” plays aside (I happen to think Caryl Churchill’s Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? was masterful, and I’m no fan of preachiness in entertainment), he ends with a call for less self-identification and knee-jerk political labeling.  This quote from Chekov is worth repeating:  “Anyone who says the artist’s field is all answers and no questions has never done any writing. . . . It is the duty of the court to formulate the questions correctly, but it is up to each member of the jury to answer them according to his own preference.”

-Dana Horst

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