Apr 7, 2009

Offending the Audience

Garrett Eisler at Playgoer has been out front with critical coverage of the New York Theatre Workshop's contortions since the Rachel Corrie controversy--a contretemps to which the recent reading of Caryl Churchill's Seven Jewish Children can be seen as a sort of belated response. So Garrett's long-awaited and strikingly circumspect column about it is a must-read (bottom line: he found Lisa Kron's solo rendition moving and nuanced, and above all theatrical).

I especially liked his concluding modest proposal, not only on its own terms but because it's just so quintessentially Garrett:
If I were running a theatre and Seven Jewish Children landed on my desk, I'd immediate issue commissions to 5 or 6 other playwrights I admired and tell them to write me their own 10-minute play on any subject they wish as long as it's something so unbearable that you're convinced no theatre company would ever do it. So the result would be an evening, hopefully, of the most offensive, morally troubling, personally insulting theatre around. No talkbacks, no panels. Just buy a ticket and go see what some really interesting playwrights can do when there are truly no holds barred. I think the effect of entering such an extreme "free speech zone" for a night would be as exhilerating as it would be infuriating.

And it probably would sell a lot of tickets, too.

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