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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Re: ISO Conservative Playwrights

posted by on November 11 at 14:01 PM

I don’t understand the recent obsession with wondering why there aren’t any conservative playwrights: Alison Carey at the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, Nicholas Hytner at the London National Theater, and now Terry Teachout at the Wall Street Journal.

Have there ever been conservative playwrights (other than the newly converted Mamet, who I suspect of a publicity stunt)? What would a conservative play look like? Hooray for the rule of law, minimize foreign entanglements, and strive for fiscal austerity?

I guess maybe The Imaginary Invalid, if abused as a political metaphor, could barely meet those criteria. But really, who cares? Conservative agitprop would be as wretched as liberal agitprop.

From Mr. Teachout:

the problem with today’s political theater is that its practitioners see their plays not as works of art but as means to an end. In such tedious exercises in left-wing agitprop as Sam Shepard’s “The God of Hell,” Caryl Churchill’s “Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?” and Tim Robbins’s “Embedded,” we are presented with a black-and-white universe of victims and villains, a place where every deck is stacked and never is heard a surprising word. Why would anybody with half a brain in his head — even a fire-breathing McCainiac, if such a creature exists — want to suffer through their right-wing equivalent?

Seriously. The theater-of-good-intentions has always made liberals look silly. Conservatives are better off without a version of their own.

And, to repeat: Conservatives who are fond of theatrics either work for Fox News or the clergy.

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There are a lot of sideways comments about Mamet's supposed new-found conservatism, but all I read in that infamous article was his claiming that he was no longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal.' That is, he challenged his thinking, and realized that somethings he took for granted he didn't really believe anymore.

It's not like he's started blowing the ghost of Leo Strauss. He's just saying that he's not going to define himself by party lines.

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

Posted by MonkeyNose | November 11, 2008 2:17 PM

Has there been much in the way of conservative artists of any medium since the Italian Futurists? Kinkade doesn't count.

Posted by el | November 11, 2008 2:25 PM

Playwrights are usually A.) College graduates and B.) Not Wealthy.

Posted by flamingbanjo | November 11, 2008 2:25 PM

Conservatives in creative fields are relatively rare across the board. The creative process tends to require a certain intrinsic degree of empathy.

Posted by Dougsf | November 11, 2008 2:26 PM

Perhaps Sarah Palin could write a play. An intelligent foray into why we need a conservative President who can't use his/her brains for anything but mouthing nonsense and who shows no inherent need to learn about anything but religious nonsense.

Posted by Vince | November 11, 2008 2:28 PM

Ayn Rand was a playwright before The Fountainhead was published.

You could also put her on the list of Asshole Playwrights.

Posted by Robin Sparkles | November 11, 2008 2:39 PM

A conservative playwright's scripts would be such a chore to read.

Posted by Greg | November 11, 2008 4:07 PM

uh, because you need to have an artistic soul in order to make art?

Posted by michael strangeways | November 11, 2008 4:20 PM

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