His first play, “Killer Joe,” about a drug addict who plans the murder of his mother for insurance money, drew a mix of raves and cries of foul.Women in the arts can always be counted on to excuse misogyny. If they want to get anywhere in the arts, of course.
"I was offended by its misogyny and brutalization of women," said Martha Lavey, who is now the artistic director of Steppenwolf. "But I also stumbled out at intermission with Amy Morton and said, ‘Wow, this is wild, but, man, this guy has a voice.' "
Just imagine, for a moment, if the paragraph said this instead:
"I was offended by its racism and brutalization of African-Americans," said Martha Lavey, who is now the artistic director of Steppenwolf. "But I also stumbled out at intermission with Amy Morton and said, ‘Wow, this is wild, but, man, this guy has a voice.' "
If Lavey and Morton were both Black, would they be expected to excuse racism for the sake of some "voice" the way women are expected to excuse misogyny? Of course not.
The fact that the first paragraph is tolerable for a Pulitzer Prize-winning, allegedly liberal, critics-darling playwright, and the second is not tells you all you need to know about the attitudes of the allegedly liberal theatre world towards women. Or really, the attitude of "liberals" in general. Once Barack Obama arrived on the scene, Hillary never had a chance.
But misogyny in a playwright must be paired with anger. The man cannot be a serious playwright unless he is angry. And this is how we know that Tracy Letts has truly arrived. The article in today's Times, by Patrick Healey, begins this way:
TRACY LETTS was angry.There is no higher praise for a male playwright than that. Thanks to his anger and his misogyny, Letts may very well have claimed the theatre world's top prize of manliest playwright of all. He has usurped King Mamet's throne.
If you are a woman, don't bother trying this yourself. As the object of misogyny and anger, it is not your place to be angry. Consider Wendy Wasserstein, the biggest name brand female playwright of all time. When she died, one thing you heard over and over again was that she was so cheerful and nice and polite. Contrast the beginning of the Letts article with this article, written by Michael Feingold, about Wasserstein:
When I think of Wendy Wasserstein, I hear her giggling.Wasserstein had the proper demeanor for a female playwright, just as Letts has the proper demeanor for a male playwright. And theatre critics, almost all of them male at the higher levels of the trade, will never let you forget this.