Oct 6, 2012

Here Comes the Son (Again)

This past week my little family grew by one, so I'll be on official daddy leave for the next month or so, not only from American Theatre but from this blog (more or less).

I leave you in the meantime with a pair of shortish pieces I recently put together, one for TCG's in-house blog re: the gratifying inclusion of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun on this year's most-produced-plays list. This is a clear byproduct of Bruce Norris' Raisin-inspired Clybourne Park (#2 on the list), and it makes Hansberry the only non-living playwright represented (Shakespeare and holiday shows aren't tallied). As I point out in the post, nearly all the upcoming productions of Raisin have some kind of link to a nearby production of Clybourne, with two sets of productions actually offered in rep (by Playmakers and Milwaukee Rep). The rundown is here.

The other is a program preview for BAM's import of Théâtre de la Ville's Rhinoceros, which afforded me the pleasure of revisiting Ionesco's masterpiece on the page and on a French-language DVD of the original production, though not, thanks to the busy home life of the moment, the production in the flesh (it closes this weekend). While Ionesco's play is clearly rooted in his experiences resisting fascism and Stalinism, I was struck by an important point from the director of the new production:
[Emmanuel] Demarcy-Mota is...quick to point out that while the piece’s antitotalitarian, anticonformist implications have kept it all too relevant (a stage adaptation with Iranian film stars was reportedly the hottest ticket in Tehran in 2009) the analogy between “rhinoceritis” and authoritarianism is imprecise.
“It can be heard as a denunciation of fanaticism, of the lackeys and henchmen that are the faithful surrounders of the dictators against whom the people rise,” Demarty-Mota concedes. “But it is interesting to underline that in the play it is a voluntary servitude with no specific tyrant; everyone becomes a rhinoceros, just like that, by cowardice, convenience, sometimes even laziness, without being specifically asked. As Ionesco said, fashion also has its tyranny.”
Writing the piece also gave me the excuse to reread the definitive essay about 20th-century spirituality, about God in the shadow of the bomb: Thomas Merton's "The Rain and the Rhinoceros." If you've never read it, I can't recommend it highly enough. And that, I think, is a fittingly meditative note to close on for now, as I return to the clarifying demands of the nursery and the rich complicity of the hearth.

No comments: