Sunday, March 25, 2018

In the Shadow of Angels

If "Angels in America" was written today it would be called 'a bit much' and cut down by critics for being the hysterical grandstanding of a show-off who went to a good school. If it was written by a POC it would be labeled as muddled and confusing (aka uppity). If it was written by a woman it would be considered didactic.

Note: white male writers possess the superpower to rant as a valid form of dramatic structure b/c there rage is deemed universal and cathartic. The psychological privilege to perpetually explode out on to others is the trick which convinces white terrorists and lone gunmen that their internal state is more valuable than other people’s lives, because their emotional fragility is more sacrosanct and real than the flesh of other humans. Yes, I am saying that our media and art quite literally trains white men to become psychopaths who think that dramatic arc of other people’s lives do not exist without their gaze. Any attempt to break this model in politics or art by implying that other ppl’s life is as valuable as their victim hood-aka black lives matter or AIDS protestors, or kids not wanting to get killed in school by crazy white guys with machine guns- is met with apoplectic fury because they are losing their dramatic license in history and storytelling.

In other words, women writers would never make it out of the workshop phase of development without being hacked into pieces by a thousand hands. And if it was written by a woman of color it would probably end up as a one-person show about Rosa Parks sitting on a bus seat eating pie. The young author would be buried in good intentions, and the play would be ground down into pre-chewed paste for toothless audiences to gum down with a room-temperature cup of nostalgia. Streaming TV has infected so many minds that even theatre critics look at new plays with a Netflix eye toward pruning.

 I have seen visionary "Angels in America" type plays in school and workshops. Most of these budding works are smothered in their cribs by the same people who praise the classic, and then wonder why there hasn't been another epic drama to come along with the same bold ambition in 20 yrs. So while we celebrate "Angels" premiere it's important to remember the raging queer black plays, explosive feminist fantasia plays, and bold re-inventors of all colors who are left to tinker with their masterpieces in the shadow of the theatre's blue-haired self-congratulatory gatekeepers.

1 comment:

Vanda said...

Bravo, Aurin. I've often looked at a celebrated play and known if I wrote or any of my less advantaged friends (No great school, no great mentors, wrong gender or color) it wouldn't have made it out of the workshop. Thank you for laying it out so clearly.