Mar 26, 2009

Butter Knives Out

Liberal Zionist Jeffrey Goldberg has an extensive, and very worthwhile, dialogue with his friend, Ari Roth, whose D.C.-based Theatre J will present a reading of Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children this weekend. I've posted on this controversy myself, and though I probably fall somewhere between Goldberg's and Roth's points of view, I would place the burden of proof slightly more on Roth. I found this his most persuasive line of argument:
Here's why we're doing it. The fact that, over eight pages, so many of the lines resonate not with the language of hate, but with the language of perception. Meaning she has overheard, she has seen, she has captured the language that Jews speak to each other with and that is astonishing...that makes her a ten-times better theatrical reporter than anybody I've ever seen. This is play written with extraordinary precision. She wrote a play that arrested my attention. And it has a problem title. I hate the title. It is a problem place where it ends, but it is subject to an incredible amount of interpretation. It's written with multiple characters. People argue with each other. It's not written as a diatribe. And so you have to allow for the art form of theater to have its way with her text. That is what's going to happen, that's what's happening in this rehearsal room. I struggle with the play...I don't think this is a great work of art, but I think there's a great artist doing something interesting here.

On the other hand, I liked Goldberg's blunt suggestion:
Maybe you could just get Caryl Churchill and David Mamet on a stage together with butter knives and see who comes out alive.

1 comment:

Travis Bedard said...

Rob, I welcome you to join us (if for some reason your Friday night is unbooked)at 8 Central for Austin's World Theatre Day presentation of the piece. We will be streaming it live online at I also wanted to point out Churchill's letter to Roth in their correspondence leading up to his production.