As American dramatists have internalized the Hollywood aesthetic and ethos, the imaginations of these dramatists have become spiritually and voluntarily crippled: the unending call for "good" storytelling (what preconceptions lie in that modifier "good," and where do those preconceptions come from?), the requirement that even our darkest plays contain some measure of "entertainment" (a weasel-word, allowing us to define it in whatever way we choose), the emphasis on audience as collective, the facile psychologizing of characters rather than an incisive exploration of their spiritual and physical conditions, the purpose of theatre as an arena for ameliorist progressive politics and "hope" or "courage," whatever these are (and however little these abstract and falsely-comforting qualities have to do with the human truths that the theatre can uniquely exhibit). These are all questions that speak to the social and cultural ends of theatre, and represent a ruling, oppressive ideology both above and beneath their surface.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
George Hunka writes about American drama: