Monday, February 22, 2010

Artfully Done

A New York Times article on gay theatre shows us a rather interesting parallel to the political processes at work. Patrick Healy, the article's author, points to plays and musicals about gay life during the 1980s and 1990s, such as Angels in America and Rent, that focused on the political battles and activism, in that they pushed awareness of AIDS and political situations for practicing homosexuals.

That's of course something important to invoke in the cultural consciousness, but Healy argues that gay theatre is charting a new course, following a new tack. Instead of focusing on the political battles, gay theatre--through recent plays such as the off-Broadway musical Yank!--has turned to the domestic side of things. Yank!, for instance, is about a love affair between two men in the Army during World War II; though it has the potential to be political, its primary focus is on the relationship between the two men.

Basically, this theatre trend argues that everybody has an equal right to happiness, with whomever that might be.

It's an idea that I think politicized art often overlooks, that there are human beings out there, each being governed by rules, social norms, and expectations; these people have emotions, feelings, passions, and they cannot be easily reduced to a data set. That ignores who they are, what they feel, what they believe.


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