Saturday, September 6, 2008

60 Days

Election Day is less than two months away. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say--or that many will disagree--that this feels like the most significant election of my lifetime.

So what can I do to encourage my fellow Americans to take their responsibility seriously: to think hard about the current state of the country, our economy, and our position in the world; to evaluate the words, deeds, and visions of the presidential candidates carefully; to not get sucked in by spin or hype but to choose for yourself?

I wish there were more theatre to recommend to you during the next two months that could help reinforce some of these important ideas. In the Broadway sector, there is, alas, virtually none: Fall 2008 (like Fall 2004) on Broadway is pretty much devoid of timely political/social content, offering instead a host of revivals of worthy plays alongside a quartet of new musicals, two of them from Dickens and Dreamworks sources and the other two about teenagers.

But elsewhere there is much to pique the politically curious mind, and I think the best I can do here at the nytheatre i is suggest that you partake of it liberally. I'm planning to see Michael Weller's Beast, which is about two Iraqi soldiers on their way back home, next week. Other shows that are dealing in some way or another with the current war include Douglas Wager's In Conflict, Mallory Catlett's Oh What War, and Counting Squares Theatre's Woyzeck. There's a new play opening this month called Quickening that deals with four women at an abortion clinic, and another called Adam of the Apes that looks at creationism and evolution--those both feel pretty timely. And there are several pieces coming up that will offer varying looks at the American spirit/psyche: Atomic City and Room to Panic at La MaMa, Radiohole's Anger/Nation, The U.S.-ification of America Conference, and stageFARM's Spin. Of course I haven't seen any of these shows yet, but my guess is that each of them will stimulate conversation about the issues at the heart of November's election, and consequently a visit to one or more should amount to an evening well spent.

I'm really looking forward to Nero Fiddled's Life After Bush, a musical that will deal very specifically with the choices we are being asked to make in this election. It begins performances at HERE on October 17 and culminates in a marathon presentation on Election Night. There will be more about Life After Bush in this blog; we're recording a podcast about the show in a couple of weeks.

Because the election is so on my mind, I think I will see echoes of it in most theatre I attend between now and November 4th. A lot of people think that everything in life is political, and so the mere act of choosing to see one kind of show over another plays into the vital ongoing debate that our country is in the midst of. I hope, in our small way, that and the rest of NYTE's projects can help folks choose more wisely, by helping them to be as well-informed as possible.

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