Politics in the theater? Of course
How surprised I was to open Newsday to the letters page on Nov. 27 and read the headline “Theater is the wrong place for politics.”
What’s next? Comedy is the wrong place for politics? America is the wrong place for politics?
The opinions of the three letter writers show a complete lack of understanding of the history of Western theater.
From their birth in Athens, the comedies of Aristophanes were blatant satires of local politicians. The plays of William Shakespeare, John Gay’s “The Beggar’s Opera” and the dark days of the Third Reich all witnessed theater addressing politics.
Every tyrant has tried to suppress the theater, and often directors have had to go underground, staging historical plays that were understood by audiences to refer to the present conditions. Jean-Paul Sartre’s “The Flies” was ostensibly a retelling of the story of Orestes — but French audiences understood the flies that infested the city to represent the occupying Nazis. How disrespectful!
Did unsuspecting ticket-buyers expect a musical about the Founding Fathers to be devoid of politics?
The best of theater is always grounded in politics, as much as politics affects everybody’s life. As Vice President-elect Mike Pence so aptly put it, “That’s what freedom looks like.”
William F. Orr, Dix Hills