Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shakespeare Would Hate Us - Just Wrought:

He would hate that people more often read his plays than see them.

He would hate, or not have been even able to comprehend, a system in which playwrights make plays for performance in cities far from where they live, for less than it costs them to create, for the narrowest sliver of society.

He would hate that so many modern American playwrights have never acted and never produced, have never done anything in a theatre except watch silently from dark seats.

Since he shared them, he would sympathize with the milquetoast middle class aspirations of most American playwrights—“I just want to have a house and a family and make the same kind of money as my friends I went to college with”— but he would grow to hate them eventually. Shakespeare may have envied his social superiors, but he also knew at his core he was better than them.

He would not hate that we kiss the asses of our benefactors and patrons, but he would hate how poorly and surreptitiously and self-loathingly we do it; almost never managing, as he did, to flatter and skewer with the same loaded lines: floating sublimely above, then suddenly crawling at them from beneath, being everyone and no one at the same time with such stunning success that even today reasonably sane and educated people entertain themselves with the pseudo-intellectual dalliance that he did not even write the plays which he so clearly did.

He would have hated the MFA system for generating new viral spores of actors, playwrights and directors when there isn’t enough work for the ones already in the system.

He would have hated the advent of the auteur director, smothering the natural brilliance of his plays with their dense cloying concepts.

He would hate that artistic administrators make the decisions about which plays get done, instead of a consensus of proprietor/players, all sharing the ownership of the theatre, and thus the risks and rewards.

And most of all, he would hate our necrophilic prejudice for his plays, even the poor ones, over anything new, even the good ones. As the consummate playwright, he would want us to love the living writers as much or more than the dead.