The Left, the Theatre, and the Myths We Need to Stop Perpetuating

Given the massive and probably somewhat brand-destroying lacuna between my last blog post and this one, and given the fact that I’ve spent some of the past hour washing my dishes and sort of muttering softly under my breath about god only knows, I’ve decided to take this occasion as an excuse to get back to blogging.

One of the realities of writing about theatre in the blogosphere is that generally speaking, most of the people doing it have political affinities which are remarkably similar to my own, and while this experience can at times be veritably cockle-warming and sort of affirming, emotionally, it doesn’t always yield the most exciting or useful debates when it comes to politics and theatre. One of the characterizing features of theatre-thinking in this country is that it is dishearteningly echo-chamber-like, especially online. Yeah, we get the odd Twitter conversation about Factory Theatre’s decision to delay the invite to critics, or Kelly Nestruck’s recent (and interesting) article about Equity – but these are concerns about particularities; what’s missing (or at least marginalized), it seems to me, is any kind of fundamental disagreement about what, how, or why theatre is, or ought to be.

I don’t pretend to offer a total paradigm-shift here. But I’ve been thinking a lot about, specifically, the influence of the Internet and the proliferation of a post-New Left vocabulary on theatre artists (at least in Canada), and how these otherwise mostly positive forces might be having a negative effect on not only our artistic practice, but on our ability to talk sensibly about systemic and cultural deficiencies in Canadian theatre.

A warning: this is going to be long, and circuitous. I’m nothing if not verbose. Bear with me – I promise I’m going somewhere with this.

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News round-up for 07.09.2013,

1. Surveillance

  • Latest revelations from Glenn Greenwald (using documents leaked by Edward Snowden) show that the NSA spends millions of taxpayer cash to fund programs designed to hack into the encryption software of “the big Four” – Hotmail, Google, Facebook, & Yahoo.
  • In response, legislation is being proposed by Rep. Rush D. Holt Jr.
  • New documents show the NSA’s targeting of Mexican & Brazilian presidents.

2. Egypt

  • Hours ago, the Egyptian military government attacked what they described as “Islamic militants” in the Sinai.
  • In an eerie echo of Morsi’s government, the military regime has decided to “dissolve” the opposition Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Egyptian Minister of the Interior survives assassination attempt.

3. Syria

  • Tony Burman on why bomibng Syria is a bad idea (& what can be done instead).
  • EU urges the US to reconsider its position on Syria; Catherine Ashton correctly observes that an attack would be a “violation of international law.”
  • Stephen Harper, ever the US’s obedient dog, makes the case for military attacks in Syria.

4. GITMO

  • A powerful new documentary, “Life After Gitmo” remains unavailable to viewers in the United States:

 5. Quebec values Charter

  • Good piece on the PQ’s proto-facistic new legislation.
  • Apparently, according to Frau Marois, people “in England…throw bombs at each other because of multiculturalism.”

6. Keystone XL Pipeline

  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper sends Obama a personal letter offering joint action to reduce greenhouse emissions, in an effort to “win” the pipeline.