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 creation and writing. This ebook explores the mostly unrecognized cultural styles that discourage political playwriting at the modern American degree.

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Extra info for American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice: Twentieth- and Twenty-First-Century Perspectives

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Is Kushner heeding this plea, and is this lachrymose nostalgia for an ideal that went hideously wrong what he offers to reorder the world? Society is better off with his jokes. (Rose “The Marx Brothers”) The Marx Brothers headline was largely the same when Washington’s Studio Theatre produced the play later the same year. Rose wrote, “There’s nothing that could pass for analysis, or even for thought . . In the end, 32 American Playwriting and the Anti-Political Prejudice all it tells us is that Kushner’s heart is in the right place.

The first act debate, set in the context of the Soviet experiment and its breakdown, is largely theoretical, with Prelapsarianov dying as he determines that “Progressive People are THE POLITICAL ENEMIES OF GOD! ” and the progressive, optimistic Serge Esmereldovich also dying as he leaps (literally) to symbolize the proletariat leaping en masse into the future. Popolitipov survives into the second act, an act depicting national decadence and marked by the funk of inactivity, set in the storage facility for the great brains of history, now jarred in liquid and guarded by Katherina Serafima Gleb, depicted as a lazy, surly young lesbian.

We are in the lamentable position of having to eschew most political issues because we simply have no vocabulary with which to discuss them. Our aesthetic codes preclude complex political discourse far more effectively than any government censor could hope to accomplish. (Kushner “Notes” 22–23, emphasis in the original) “We have no vocabulary,” Kushner writes. Indeed, the essay is a charge of political illiteracy in American drama. The horizon of expectations has been drastically constricted for writers and audiences.

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