The controversy spreads... ~ theatre notes

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The controversy spreads...

The New York Times has at last broken its silence on the controversy over the New York Theatre Workshop's cancellation of the Royal Court production of My Name Is Rachel Corrie, with an opinion piece by Edward Rothstein defending the decision, and suggesting that it is "heretical" because it defies "aesthetic orthodoxy". Hmmm. Good responses, as always, on both Superfluities and Playgoer. An electronic petition protesting the decision is gathering signatures here, and plans for protest readings and other actions gather apace here.

Those who wonder what all this fuss might have to do with theatre in Melbourne could do worse than to contemplate the excellent essay Theater, Ideology and the Censorship of "My Name is Rachel Corrie" by the playwright Walter A. Davis in Counterpunch. It's by far the most searching response yet, thoughtfully contextualising the issues at hand in our post 9/11 world; and in doing so, Davis speaks eloquently of the role of theatre:

The role of serious drama is to represent the disorders of its time, not in order to relieve or "cathart" our dilemmas but to make it impossible for us to any longer ignore them. Rilke's "You must change your life" is the "message" that any great drama delivers as a blow to the psyche of its audience. To appropriate a phrase from Albee, the purpose of serious drama is to "get the guests." And not I add primarily by getting them to change their ideas about some current political and social situation. Serious drama strikes much deeper. It is an attempt to assault and astonish the heart, to get at the deepest disorders and springs of our psychological being, in order to affect a change in the very way we feel about ourselves - and consequently about everything else. Going to the theatre can be a dangerous act. One risks discovering things one doesn't want to know about oneself in a way that makes it impossible to remain the person one was before a play eradicated one's defenses and shattered one's identity.

An axe, as Kafka said of writing, to break the ice within...

4 comments:

P'tit Boo said...

Nice lowdown and quotes !

I signed the petition. This whole thing is nuts. It's been fun reading everyone's responses though !

P'tit Boo said...

Alison,
the link to the response is broken...

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Boo... "nuts" is a pretty good description...

That link's now fixed. Thanks for pointing it out!

Jason Grote said...

By the way, the NYT piece is riddled with inaccuracies about Corrie... palsolidarity.org is hosting an action alert about it.