Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Musharaff and His Dancing Elephants - Political Theatre

One review of the Frank Rich book The Greatest Story Ever Sold, pointed out that Mr. Rich's background as a drama critic gave him a unique skill to "critique" and analyze the very adept way in which the Bush Administration would stage elaborate performance pieces for optimum effect.

Politica has a long collaboration with the concept of theatre. Ian Maxwell Mackinnon's Manifesto "Elect Better Actors," begins this way:
The first theatre was a coronation pageant for a guy high on a platform above a crowd...In ancient Greece, Solon the legislator asked Thespis the Actor if he was ashamed of telling so many lies in front of people. Thespis said there was no harm in pretending to be somebody else in a play. According to Plutarch, Solon replied, "If we honor and commend such play as this we may some day find it in our business-" that is, politics.

And from Rediff today we get a commentary on how Musharaff of Pakistan is very adept at this new age of political theatre on a grand scale:

After years of observing the deft General Pervez Musharraf I must admit a sneaking feeling of admiration for the way he has navigated the minefields of, to mix metaphors wildly, dancing with three elephants: Saudi Arabia, the United States, and China.

He is simply peerless in his ability to put on diplomatic theatre, and he has an unerring instinct for how to induce the willing suspension of disbelief that is the centrepiece of all theatre.

Musharraf has assiduously cultivated the fiction that he is Louis XIV of France, who said in all seriousness, 'After me, the deluge.'


I couldn't help but remember Edward Albee, at the recent Ford Hall Forum, recalling the first theatre performance he attended-- Jumbo, in which Jimmy Durante starred with an Elephant.

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