There are always exceptions that prove the rule, of course - Charles Olson and Allen Ginsberg, who both taught poetry programs, spring lawlessly to mind - but the proliferation of polite, competently-written, dull poeticisms that presently clog the arteries of US lit are a direct result of the MFA creative writing programs, which raise well-meaning young poets to be well-meaning teachers who, in a kind of nightmare of eternal recurrence, then publish each other.
Madagascar is of this ilk. You can almost hear the sawing in the background as the metaphors and themes are workshopped. But most of all, what gives it away is the closed mental universe it inhabits. It's about the thoughts and sufferings of wealthy Americans, for whom the world is a giant mirror in which the poverty of their aching selves is revealed. It's a play that wants to be liked, that assumes - perhaps cleverly - that its audience is a middle class, liberal bunch with vague concerns about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket. The audience gets to hear a lot about themselves, and even more about the meaning of life.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Is That A Saw I Hear?
Australian writer and critic Alison Croggon who writes the blog Theatre Notes can "smell" an MFA writer anywhere. Here she reviews Madagascar, a new play from American playwright J.T. Rogers (White People).