Monday, October 02, 2006

Kushner, The Documentary

Stanley Kauffman reviews a new documentary on Tony Kushner, Wrestling With Angels: Playwright Tony Kushner:

Freida Lee Mock, an admirably skilled documentarian, followed Kushner from just after 9/11 until the 2004 presidential election. Much of this time was of course spent in or around the theater, but it becomes clear that Kushner believes in his theater work as a source of strength and possibility for other aspects of his life.

Like Bernard Shaw in just this one respect,
Kushner takes his playwriting as an enabler. Because of his fame, he is invited to universities and conferences and other public occasions where he speaks.

Kauffman also reminds people of Kushner's valuable article on about Eugene O'Neill, The Native Eloquence of Fog.

Following up on Kauffman's comment above, it is probable that Kushner's social and political activity is also enabling something. Kauffman anxiously laments in the review that Kushner is in prime writing age - 50 years old - and "we want more." I have always wondered about the enabling of artistic stagnation by larger popular and social success. I imagine that being booked solid for lectures is a very seductive way for creative procrastination to grab hold. Perhaps equally seductive may be the idea that at least, for a while, anything you write will be produced somewhere.

Anna Deveare Smith has written that she is "in awe of procrastination," and fights against letting it get even a foothold.

It has been over decade or so since Angels in America and who would have thought at the time of its triumphant appearance that so little in the way of original drama would issue forth from its creator.

If I sound greedy, and unreasonable...well, I plead guilty.

Note: In the way of documentaries about the theatre, let's not forget This So Called Disaster; Sam Shepard directs The Late Henry Moss.

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