Thursday, November 02, 2006

What to Produce, and Why It Matters

For Boston to matter in theatre, there must be Boston/Massachusetts
matter, and some distinctive Boston/Massachusetts styles. When Red
states use Massachusetts or Boston as labels for all that is wrong
with America -- liberalism, elitism, permissiveness, etc... they have
an image of us. So do movies like The Departed, set among Southie
mobsters, or a TV series like Boston Legal, which draws on the idea
of Massachusetts as place hospitable to intellectual argument and
hostile to corporations and bigots. We should be holding up the
mirror to ourselves, discovering for ourselves what is really here to
celebrate or satirize. Our "Barney Frank" is a boogyman conservatives
use to scare their constituents into giving money and turning out to
vote-- to me Barney, my representative, is the ideal: a person that I
am so confident is devoted to the Common Good that when I discover
that I disagree with him on an issue, I assume that I'd better
reconsider. What's the local Barney Factor, that makes his public
service possible? My city (Newton) has the lowest crime rate in the
country: where does that come from? Why have we, uniquely, been
right about what would happen if the US invaded Iraq? And why is the
rest of the country so eager to reject sound advice if it comes from
Massachusetts? This latest Kerry joke flap is another instance of
Massachusettsophobia. We have low church membership, and the lowest
divorce rate, and we're less fat than every one but Oregonians: what
is that all about? Like politics, theatre is local. The only way we
can address the universal dramatically is by testing the particulars
of experience through the "imitation of an action", and judge the
consequences in the context of a community. Over time, when people
have long term collegial relationships that amount to a continuing
conversation, we will develop a common artistic vocabulary. We'll
contest, correct, and encourage each other, and begin to be able to
tell when we're telling the truth and when we're recycling
fashionable crap. Then, maybe, Boston will have a "there" there, and
be on the map.

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home