Wednesday, May 03, 2017
Imagining Theatre as a Town Hall Meeting
HowlRound: We’re living through a moment of real disdain for artists, evident not only in the recent threats to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), but also via the ubiquitous insult of any displeasing event as “political theatre.” From the missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase to the House Intelligence Committee’s hearings on Russia and Sean Spicer’s press briefings, Americans have been quick to denounce what they see as spectacles meant to score political points. As a director, I’m fascinated by the presence and power of theatrical gestures in the political arena, and I’ve sought recently to make work that wrestles with both senses of the term political theatre. In particular, Chains Don’t Rattle Themselves: A Concert for Youth Justice, a song cycle I directed and co-conceived this year, drew inspiration from that most theatrical of civic affairs, the town hall.