Friday, March 12, 2010

Response to Jason Zinoman

Jason Zinoman, the NYTimes theater critic and I have been going back and forth in the comments on my post from March 10 ah yes, theatre critics dig up more exciting "controversy"

Rather than fit my latest response into the little comment box, I decided to make it a post instead.

Jason asked: is it not notable that the play makes an argument about abortion that you never see onstage?

But I've never seen any "argument" about abortion on stage - as far as I am aware, any play that has ever dealt with abortion on stage has been about the ambiguities of abortion. Are you aware of a pro-choice play that is the equivalent in stridency of GIRLS IN TROUBLE? I haven't heard of one - please enlighten me.

Nobody has been preventing the Catholic Church or any other anti-abortion organization from producing an anti-abortion play. I will defend to the death anybody's right to say whatever they want in a play. But the right to have your say is not the same as an obligation for others - especially your ideological opponents - to facilitate and pay for you to have your say.

Even if the anti-abortion advocates don't get to grind their ideological axe on stage - so what? It isn't like they aren't getting their point of view out on a regular basis, up to and including getting in the faces of women seeking abortions by standing around screaming in front of health clinics. I used to videotape them. You can see a short sample of what women put up with in the video clip I posted yesterday.

And do you really think that I - or any liberal - are so ignorant of the arguments of the anti-abortion side that we need Jonathan Reynolds to come along and save us from our ignorance? I've heard all the anti-abortion arguments - I was raised Catholic, I was indoctrinated with anti-abortion arguments.

Do you think it's a coincidence that the "hot-button" item chosen to be addressed is one that attack's women's right to self-determination? The theater is empirically resistant to presenting plays by women about women as was demonstrated in the recent well-known study - and the Flea's own web site demonstrates that in the past 5 years it has presented plays by women 11 times while it has presented over twice as many plays by men - 29. (some of the playwrights of both genders are represented by more than one play/production.)

This is the context in which they decide to present an anti-woman play by a man.

When is The Flea going to produce the conservative side of other "hot-button" issues? When will it produce a play that advocates the conversion of gays to heterosexuality? Where is the right-wing response to ANGELS IN AMERICA?

Where does it end - do Nazi sympathizers get their own play? And if not - why not? Where is the REAL "Springtime for Hitler"? What about a pro-Taliban play? I'm sure they're anti-abortion too.

Although really, it isn't like conservative points of view are not being presented on stage. In addition to David Mamet's work, there are all those revivals. Anything written more than 50 years ago will contain points of view congenial to any contemporary conservative.