By N. Pressley
20 years after Tony Kushner's influential Angels in the USA looked as if it would claim a revitalized efficiency for the preferred political play, there's a "No Politics" prejudice undermining US creation and writing. This ebook explores the mostly unrecognized cultural styles that discourage political playwriting at the modern American degree.
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Extra resources for American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives
Unlike other people, she was able to do something about it. She wrote Watch on the Rhine in April 1941, seven months before Pearl Harbor . . What Sherwood and the Lunts had begun the year before [in There Shall Be No Night], Miss Hellman continued with an exhilarating play that consolidated public opinion because her drama was unanswerable. (Atkinson 302–303) Atkinson notes that no Pulitzer for drama was awarded that year: “The committee pretended not to have heard Miss Hellman’s voice . . In the valiant person of Miss Hellman, the depression and the brutal conquests by Hitler and Mussolini produced a major dramatist.
That resistance to the play on the grounds of its simplistic argument is a rationalization for social embarrassment . . It is an honest play, in which thought-provoking matter is given arrestingly theatrical body . . To wave aside “Les Blancs” . . ” (Nemiroff 134) “Wave aside,” “evasion,” and “bad faith” pierce the pro forma analyses that amounted to no-politics-allowed dogma in the Les Blancs critical response. Also piercing are Clurman’s quotation marks around “good theater,” a subjective phrase that, again, implicitly privileges psychology and character while assuming politics to be an intrusion on the autonomy of rounded characters.
The difficulties and precepts Kushner enumerates will be revisited in other contexts throughout this book. Kushner himself, though, activated his poetics of politics with fervor in his 90-minute Angels companion piece, Slavs! Or Thinking about the Longstanding Problems of Virtue and Happiness (1994), with an establishment of political literacy as a key. The nominal subject is the collapsed Soviet Union, but it is written for contemplation by American audiences, and was created out of extra matter from the two-part, seven-hour Angels in America.
American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives by N. Pressley