During this election season theatergoers in New York can see a dozen or so overtly political plays, about Iraq, Washington corruption, feminism or immigration; what they wonâ€™t see are any with a conservative perspective.
If you think the one-sidedness is a result of the cityâ€™s generous supply of liberals, then look west of the Alleghenies, where, from Pittsburgh to Des Moines, on down to Austin, Tex., and all the way back up to Ashland, Ore., the absence is just as noticeable. Artistic directors of regional theaters and playwriting programs throughout the country are quick to point out that most American plays avoid politics altogether or cannot be easily categorized.
Nonetheless, many have been struck by the lack of plays that, for instance, question multiculturalism, gay marriage and abortion rights, or champion an unfettered free market, a strong military and barriers to immigration. The problem, they say, is not that authors with those ideas cannot get their plays produced, but rather that they cannot be found.
Art Borreca, who has been the head of the Playwrights Workshop in Iowa since 1997, said he reads at least 100 new plays a year by students and applicants and had come across only one that had what could be considered a conservative viewpoint â€” and that was written by a liberal professor who thought his skepticism of multicultural courses was being unfairly characterized.
AndrÃ© Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater for 16 years, said he reads about five plays a week, and from thousands over the years he could not think of a single one that would fall on the right end of the spectrum. â€œIâ€™m trying to think if I ever read a play that I would call conservative,â€ he said, pausing a few moments. â€œI donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve come across one.â€
Stop, let’s roll that back. Instead of conservative plays, how about this: have you seen any with any perspective other than liberal?
You haven’t, of course, nor have you seen a Hollywood movie with that kind of perspective, nor will you see an advertisement with an un-liberal view. What does this mean?
(a) Our entertainment leaders are repeating known dogmas.
(b) They have no idea if these dogmas work in reality.
(c) They find it easier to sell their entertainment product this way.
(d) They are protected because we consider it art.
(e) People who are desperate and look to entertainment for answers receive an unbalanced view.
Why is it that hippies, radical black activists, corporate marketers, entertainment leaders and opinion workers all agree, yet the people who keep this country running by doing the boring jobs it needs, from carpenter to tax accountant to network administrator, are more likely to be not conservative but anti-liberal?
Liberalism is not reality. Neither is entertainment. I wonder if the electorate will discover that before it’s too late and they turn this country into a third world shadow of its former self.