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How Will Theatre React To The Changing Political Climate? Playwright Perspective

By Gary Wien

originally published: 02/26/2017

How Will Theatre React To The Changing Political Climate? Playwright Perspective

New Jersey Stage reached out to a pair of playwrights to get their take on how the current political climate might affect their work, whether they think it will affect others, and what it means to theatre as a whole.  We spoke with Joseph M. Paprzycki and Bernardo Cubria.

This is part two of the article. For the perspective of two artistic directors (Laura Ekstrand of Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre and Carl Wallnau of Centenary Stage Company), click here.

 

Do you think you might tackle some of the issues from the campaign (racism, xenophobia, hatred, gay rights) or other political topics in a future work?

I have always been a  political playwright.  Many of my plays veer into a political discussion (my newest play “Goalposts” which shows how middle aged employees are pushed out of long held jobs due to younger, less expensive people on the market) and “Last Rites” which showed a city changing due to the closing of factories and shipyards.  I have also written about racism, hatred and gay rights.  However…in saying that…now is the time for artists to stand up even more to  tell the truth about the darkness around them. I think it is even more important now that our national press failed on such a large level and let a dangerous, man child take over the country.  We…the artists…need to show him with all of his flaws…call him out on all of his lies…and show the truth.  I will be writing more about this going forward with  more of a proactive than reactionary approach….although…I am sure I will do that as well.   The darkness creeps closer and closer towards our doors. The time to act is now.

 



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Is it the role of the arts (playwrights, poets, writers, artists, etc.) to tackle politics? Or is that a different decision or path for each artist?

A true artist is possessed by his NEED to tell the truth.  We are more needed than ever. After 9/11 I quit writing for a few weeks to concentrate on raising money for the American Red Cross.  At first…it felt like the thing to do.  After that time…though…I began to feel the life flow through my veins as I realized art would be even more important to all of us trying to figure out just what the hell happened and how do we recover from it.  I learned even more the power of art at that moment and I never will forget it again.  As far as I am concerned…if you don’t want to use your talents to tell truth…..then go work at Wawa.



How Will Theatre React To The Changing Political Climate? Playwright PerspectiveWhat do you think the election will mean to the Latino/Latina theatre community?  Do you see this ushering in an age of more politically charged work?

I know our community. We will unite and create even more work. The only silver lining from this terrible day is that art will thrive and will be the home for protest and for action. I for one plan to write even more and to attack him with satire every single day of his four years in office. His tiny hands and thin skin are about to get an avalanche of jokes from me.

 

Does the election result inspire you to get more political?  Or are you sick of the entire thing and want to avoid politics now?

Yes! We must fight. We must unite and organize. This is one of the most important moments in the history of humanity and we have to respond. We have to fight for unity, for inclusion, and for a vision of the world that represents all of us. Art is even more important today than it was yesterday.

 

Do you believe this will make it harder for Latino/Latina playwrights to be accepted by the mainstream?

No. I don’t because I think the people will want our voices now. It may be too late but if this doesn’t make the gate keepers realize how important diversity is on the stage then nothing will.

 

Finally, what do you think the election says about America?

It shows us how divided this country is. And how many people are willing to look past racism, sexism, and greed in order to attack the people they hate. It’s scary as hell. But we have to fight it.

How Will Theatre React To The Changing Political Climate? Playwright Perspective

 





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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
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Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
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Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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