Who’s Special Now?

Violetta appears as a victim of the putative sack of Venice in a demonstration of documentary theatre:

DL: do characters have to be special for us to care?

W1: preferably not.

M4: I identify more with the special princess than with the token man on the street

M5: the first courtesan scene is scarier because there’s an identified villain, instead of the second, where it’s more of a system …

DL: but aren’t people actually prone to systems?  Weil specifies that the whole thing about being colonized – she’s also talking about systems.

GLK: the first scene might be more cynical because it implies an endless reversal of power – it’s more cynical; while the second, while the second courtesan is more cynical herself, the fact that it’s a clearer view of the world reveals more of an optimism

DL: the 3rd scene is both systemic and personal … how does that go over?

M1: it’s emotional – it’s about the feelings rather than the ideas – there’s tension, but also vague thought.

W2: there are numbers in the second Courtesan scene too – and you see the personal and the broader vision.

M6: to me the first scene is most moving, because you see that rape is not a by-product of war but a deliberate act, and here dictated by a victim onto other victims – a corrupt concept of justice lies behind so much of war.

DL: when we say something is political – what do we want it to do? there’s a range of possibilities that people have named –  is giving people room to reflect political?

JH: the less sophisticated the message, the more likely it is to reach a larger audience.  the more sophisticated it is, it’s going to reach less people – though it may reach people who are more educated, more powerful …

MDL: when you asked which scene people felt worked better, people are starting to participate more –

DL: which means?

MDL: so when it’s an esthetic question instead of a political stance, people are participating more …

W1: but being given a choice is empowering.

DL: but in theatre you usually get a choice in, like, the mystery of edwin drood.

[the issue of Seven Jewish Children arises …]

DL: does the requirement of a contribution imply that normal choice isn’t enough

JH: what is churchill going to do you if you don’t make the donation?

DL: she won’t let you do her next blockbuster starring Sam Shepard.

M3: I think I already know what the play [7JC] is …

[disagreement from people who’ve seen/read it, the play explained as at least a potentially ambiguous piece …]

DL: even if it’s asking for a humane collection, she is tying herself to a point of view

W7: interesting that at NYTW there was no actual passing of the hat – nothing so confrontational – I didn’t even see a collection box, only a slip of paper that gave you the information about the charity you could contribute to … it seemed really an avoidance, actually totally wimpy

– “that seems incredibly NYTW …”

[discussion of NYTW, Rachel Corrie, Homebody Kabul, etc.]

DL: does the hat-passing reduce it to propaganda?

MDL: I find that provocative – you had to go home and make a choice whether or not to contribute yourself …

DL: Eyre/McKellen production of RIII story: “Who is so bold …”

… which leads us into intermission.


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