Sunday, March 16, 2008

Political Perversity In New York

David Mamet's Village Voice confession that he's no longer a "brain-dead liberal" has caused a bit of a stir.

Well, based on statements he'd been making for a while, I can't say it's much of a surprise. But really, who cares? His importance, such as it is, is based on his art. He rarely writes explicitly political stuff (though his latest is), but even if he did, what would count is the quality of the writing, not what side he's on, or even how well he makes his case.

It will be interesting, however, to see how the theatrical world reacts.

PS I find his unorthodox ideas on acting and directing far more interesting--i.e., actors should say their lines and otherwise shut up and directors...well, let's just get rid of them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find his ideas about getting rid of directors and letting actors just act together to "put on a show" faintly communistic, for someone claiming to to have cured himself of left-leaning ideas.

Actually, his commentary reminds me of my consistent feeling that left idealogues and right idealogues have much more in common with each other than they do with the more centrist or pragmatic members of their side of the aisle. That explains their tendency to swing wildly from one side to the other. They pine for a nice clean formula by which the world can be run. When the one they first latch upon is disproven over time, they swing hard over to another one. None of the formulas actually work -- but hopefully you die before you finally realize that?

7:24 PM, March 16, 2008  
Blogger LAGuy said...

His complaint about directors is that they get in the way of the actor and the play. Instead of trying to serve the author, they worry about pleasing the director.

Directors, certainly in the modern sense, are, I believe, a fairly new invention. There was a rise of major directors, about a century ago--men like Max Reinhardt and Stanislavski who took over a production and changed how they were presented. But before then, a lot of theatre's didn't really have a name for director. Often the production would be run by the playwright or the lead actor, and they'd be called producers, or actor-managers.

Since then, of course, there have been actors' collectives who didn't give any one person the role of watching over everything. But no matter how it's done, it might be interesting to see how a play without a director, or without, in any case, a major director who overrules any other voice, would look.

7:59 PM, March 16, 2008  
Anonymous denver guy said...

It is a fascinating article - thanks for the link. Also quite interesting are the many comments attached to the article. I haven't read them all, but from the left's reaction, you'ld think Mamet had just revealed himself to be the antichrist!

The responses on the right are a bit too smug for my tastes, but I was intrigued that Mamet apparently lived his whole life to date without examining his foundational beliefs, or even attempting to digest and understand opposing viewpoints. I enjoyed the sense of wonderment in his article, as if he was discovering something that he would never have guessed was out there (that is a reasonable basis for conservative attitudes). As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

3:38 PM, March 17, 2008  
Blogger LAGuy said...

I'm always fascinated at how people change their minds. Generally, if you have strong feelings about something, it's not easy to do it. (That's why the fight is usually over the people in the middle.)

You're more likely to change your mind due to the sort of people you're around, and the experiences you have, than by going over the facts and saying "I guess I was wrong."

6:03 PM, March 17, 2008  

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