By N. Pressley
Two decades after Tony Kushner's influential Angels in the United States appeared to claim a revitalized efficiency for the preferred political play, there's a "No Politics" prejudice undermining US construction and writing. This booklet explores the principally unrecognized cultural styles that discourage political playwriting at the modern American degree.
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Extra resources for American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives
It seems plausible that a taste for the Brechtian techniques5 and the music-hall approach of Prebble and director Rupert Goold resonated better in Britain than with Brantley, who closed his review by describing his fascination with the psychological depiction of Enron chief financial officer, Andy Fastow, shown in thrall to the raptors that symbolized the dark, rapacious aspects of his business arrangements. The critic’s lone affinity, then, was for the idiosyncrasy of character, not for history, policy, or corporate/social/political praxis.
Rodgers withdrew the work when it became clear that he had a full-length tale (and commercial interest) on his hands. It is almost only incidentally an American play, and not a brand of play that American critics are predisposed to accept. Yet as we have seen, there is strong evidence that earlier generations of audiences took an interest in knowing where playwrights stood on issues Anti-Political Prejudice in America 43 of the day. The arbitrariness of the contemporary anti-political, antiplaywriting habitus can be suggested by the strikingly different cultural responses to political/topical stage projects in New York (hostile) versus the response in London (engaged), with Lucy Prebble’s Enron as a provocative example.
Brantley, in the Times, acknowledged, “British reviewers have piled on the superlatives, admiring the show’s thematic audacity, moral severity and all-out razzmatazz. ” Brantley’s American view described Enron as a “flashy but labored economics lesson”: The realization sets in early that this British-born exploration of smoke-andmirror financial practices isn’t much more than smoke and mirrors itself. “Enron” is fast-paced, flamboyant and, despite the head-clogging intricacy of its business mathematics, lucid to the point of simple-mindedness.