By N. Pressley
20 years 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 publication explores the mostly unrecognized cultural styles that discourage political playwriting at the modern American level.
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Extra resources for American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives
Mason exhaustively reconstructs Miller’s 1956 HUAC testimony in Stone Tower: The Political Theater of Arthur Miller; his purpose “Politics” 21 is to delineate Miller’s thinking on freedom of expression and the government’s right use of power, but in that process he positions Miller as less than the most rebellious of witnesses. In fact, Mason finds that Miller was actually more cooperative than Hellman and Paul Robeson, among others. Yet Miller gained lasting stature by declining to discuss anyone’s activities but his own.
Reception and the Anti-Political Prejudice in America I n Distinction, Pierre Bourdieu wrote, “The propensity to speak politically, even in the most rudimentary way, that is, by producing a ‘yes’ or a ‘no,’ or putting a cross beside a prefabricated answer, is strictly proportionate to the sense of having the right to speak” (412). In Theatre, leading playwright David Mamet writes, “Should the theater be political? Absolutely not” (57). In her 1997 study, Theatre Audiences, Susan Bennett quotes British scholar Janet Wolff on what amounts to the social horizon of expectations (though Wolff does not use that term)1 and the creation of works of art: The forms of artistic production available to the artist play an active part in constructing the work of art.
Stanley Fish’s definition of interpretive communities: Interpretive communities are made up of those who share interpretive strategies not for reading (in the conventional sense) but for writing texts, for constituting their properties and assigning their intentions. In other words, these strategies exist prior to the act of reading and therefore determine the shape of what is read rather than, as is usually assumed, the other way round. (Fish “Affective Stylistics” 1980, qtd. in Bennett 40) The Case of Kushner 27 With Angels, Kushner ghosted the interpretive strategies once shared between Shaw, Brecht, Miller, et al.