Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cafe Anthropic

I don’t know what zeitgeist seminar the Yale kids take when they’re gearing up for their final MFA composition, but it always amazes me when catchphrases sprout simultaneously in a delicious super-meme. It also makes slacker editorializing that much easier because I can hit a bunch of stuff at once. So as I watch Bush put his official armchair philosophy seal of approval on Intelligent Design and then watch The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow in its final weekend at Studio Theatre, I have to wonder which came first: the artifice or the idea? They seem inseparable, sure, but recognizing the difference helps cut through all the bullshit the radcons are using to justify their plug for I.D. in the public school system. And tracking which hip metaphysics the playwrights are using this week can help explain why their stories so often seem incomplete (or with Shanley’s Doubt, why they seem downright corrupt).

Intelligent Design

I’m getting into an area where I’m almost too exasperated to write. All these little jibes about the nature of theatre usually don‘t go farther than this trusty e-cabal on tundratastic. And the fate of theatre affects, first, those of us who make it. But the fate of an entire culture -- if a culture’s respect for reason and democracy is directly related to how that civilization survives and thrives -- is altogether too daunting to consider sometimes. Sorry. Oft have I shrugged! Oft, I say! As a guy thrown into the real world just as it was falling apart,* I find it hard to juggle the normal Act One of My Life bullshit with Act Two of the New American Century. But here’s another shout in the ether, for whatever it’s worth.

When certain members of the federal government shun public education with one hand, strip it of its funding with the other, and then marvel at why it doesn’t seem to work anymore … when they’ve spent five years wearing their scripture on their sleeve (from Operation Infinite Justice to the 10 Commandments displays in Texas) … when these same people now masquerade as scientists and offer an official-sounding theory that negates the very idea of science … I want to scream. Not write a blog entry. That the showdown over Intelligent Design has been cast as a policy issue -- with those same poor public schools as the battleground -- only makes me foiqjweofiaQHWEI9HFIASDFA even more. And then I read some pitch-perfect satire on the subject and feel better for about twelve minutes -- until I realize that basically every word in that spoof could have come out of the president's mouth.

The advocates of Intelligent Design have as the base of their argument the meager fact that evolution doesn’t seem to cover all the leaps and gaps in the grand history of biochemical life on earth. That evolution (with all its imperfections and missing links) still soundly refutes the idea that the earth is 6000 years old doesn’t seem to enter into it. They want to kick Darwin down to size by taking the reasonable doubt built into any scientific theory and prying it open wide enough to fit their god into the cosmos. At every turn, they present not proof for Intelligent Design, merely doubt for Evolution.

Veteran readers of this blog may have noticed that the words "proof" and "doubt" have figured significantly in our previous discussions about theatre, too! How about that?! We'll get back to that shortly, I promise.

At this point, most reasonable people offer a simple reiteration of the difference between a theory and a law. But the radcons don’t understand that they can’t take advantage of Evolution’s data gaps without affirming the existence of Evolution in the first place. Clearly natural selection takes place in the world. The question is whether it’s responsible for every last genetic innovation in existence. Either way, the absence of total continuity in one system does not equal the presence of evidence for any replacement system you care to dream up.

Astrophysicists go through this all the time with the Anthropic Principle -- which, if I'm getting it correctly, says that the universe was built the way it was so we could understand how it was built the way it was. Sounds circular to us mortals, and I think it is. But Stephen Hawking hopped on the Anthropic bandwagon a few years ago, for whatever that's worth to you. The A.P. makes a handy companion piece for I.D. since the one discusses cosmological design and the other discusses biochemical design. But there's no method for proving either of them.

It reminds me of Arlen Specter’s Magic Bullet Theory. In the end, the MBT isn’t laughable because it might have happened, but because its elaborate (and strictly probabilistic) grounding does not disprove more compelling conspiracy theories. In an effort to tidy up a national tragedy (i.e. to bring it back to the simple live-TV melodrama everyone saw in 1963) the Warren Commission hammered any contradictory evidence back to the three bullets. So weak was their case that one of the bullets had to be Magical. Sure, it counts as a theory. But as proof of a single shooter, it’s on weaker statistical ground than Evolution ever was. And you don’t see the right-wing bitching for higher standards on that one.

Imagine if the Administration applied its new-found scientific rigor to, say, a certain war in which the phrase “massive intelligence failure” was bandied about not once, but twice in the course of two years. 9/11 was a M.I.F. As was the build-up to Iraq. How is it that a President who can’t remember which of his children is diabetic is permitted even to speak of M.I.F.’s or, more audaciously, the concept of Intelligent Design?

Proof of Doubt

Meanwhile, in Theatreland …

We have assholes like John Patrick Shanley celebrating the idea of collective doubt as though it were actually a) revolutionary or b) useful. What infuriated me most about his play was learning that he and the director and the actor playing Father Flynn had a get-together to decide what the real verdict/backstory was! After eleven excruciating scenes that culminate with no conclusion, the writer, the director, and the actor actually know the answer! Isn't that great? They just don’t want to tell us because, hey, that’s life. Now think about this for a moment. Is this play demonstrating the reasonable doubt we all feel for authority structures, holy and otherwise? Or is it just the umpteenth subjectivist mindfuck tossed off by a lazy writer who believes that Descartes for Dummies is really thought-provoking stuff? And what kind of thoughts are being provoked? Any? Or are we merely … provoked?

Doubt falls short on all the juicy Monsterist screeds I’ve been yakking about for the last month, so I won’t go into that again. But there’s something worse going on here. For all practical reasons, Shanely and his premiere team supplant the corrupt patriarchy of the story with a more sinister and self-defeating aesthetic corruption. Obviously the creator, the director, and the poor actor need to know what the real Flynn storyline is if they’re going to flesh it out and ground the character on stage. But after we leave the theatre, we get nowhere because the playwright wants to withhold our capacity for judgment while reserving for himself the right to marvel at how the world is filled with such ethically gray situations.

Were Shanley to explore an area of genuine, universal ambiguity (by, say, ripping open some of those above-mentioned cracks in Evolution) he might be onto something. Perhaps something that directly relates to faith and collective insecurity. Instead, we have a rectory-bound whodunnit where the real answer is anyone’s guess because no one (including the playwright) is courageous enough to engage in a truly heroic fight for the truth. So we just shrug at the existing power structure -- shielded from consequence all the more by Shanley’s groundless decision to set his play in the 1960s** -- and go home arguing in the car about whether or not the priest molested the kid. As for the stern emperor penguin who fights the good fight … well … would it be a PLOT SPOILER for me to reveal here that after her defrocking crusade SHE HAS DOUBTS?!?!?!?! Shit! I never saw that coming! So where does that leave us? And why should we care when the artists involved have already made up their minds?

Shanley seems to believe he’s doing us a larger civic service. And one could easily conclude from his play's booming popularity that JPS has tapped into something provacative here. His preface to the reader’s edition waxes philosophical at every turn. The injustice of the 1960s Catholic clergy pecking order is offered as an analog to the present -- not just socially, but somehow epistemologically, too. For all the weaknesses and frustrations in his story … for all the unanswered questions … we’re told “Hey, man. Isn’t that just like life?” Not when someone knows the answers but purposely withholds them.

In countless interviews, Shanley bemoans the state of our national discourse. He talks about how cable news has degenerated into a contest of wills, where facts and rational argument rarely enter into our quest for truth. I agree. But then he writes a play purposely designed to send people home shrieking from the same sense of subjectivist entitlement! When asked why he’s written it that way, he switches from weak, uninformed sociological speculation to weak, uninformed philosophical speculation: he equates certainty with corruption and doubt with enlightenment.

Personally, I don't need to spend more time with intractable personailties or implacable situations. I need a way to get through them. Shouldn't art be a place where we actually have a shot at figuring things out? Where the fight we should have fought can be demonstrated for our study? Where the audience can put aside its collective doubt with that splendid "suspension of disbelief?" Doesn't the textbook term "suspension of disbelief" negate the whole circus of doubt that Shanley's so eager to conjure***? I'm not saying we should abandon critical thinking -- I'm saying that perpetual criticism (i.e. cynicism) is just as useless as blind certainty. But "blind" is the operative word. Not certainty. Doubt is where we start the search for knowledge. It's shouldn't be where we end up.

The final message? As near as I can tell? It doesn’t matter what side you’re on because you can never know anything for sure. So instead of investigating further, checking your premises, refining your method, or putting your name/life on the line, why don’t you just perpetually doubt everything because, damn it, if I had to find a crystalline infinitive to sum up human consciousness it’d be … “to doubt.” Never mind the fact that such glib reductionism is WAY more smarmy and closed-minded that any manifest religion out there. Apparently, the only way to avoid sending an innocent man to jail or to protect an at-risk child from pedophilia is to never get out of bed in the morning. Why bother? The weatherman said it’d be sunny today. But I have my doubts.

All sorts of people capitalize on collective uncertainty. And ya know what kids? Uncertainty exists. It’s there for you right around the corner whenever you care to look. The debate shouldn’t be about the primacy of doubt -- in art, science, OR religion. It should be about what we’re going to do about it. So we can all grow up, re-read our low-cal Kant book from freshman year, and move on … or we can choose to sink in frustration with those five weak senses that God or whomever gave us.

But we do NOT have to sit and listen to the perennial polemic about doubt versus certainty, especially when our moderators -- be they Bush or Shanley -- are the ones manufacturing the doubt in the first place.

Jenny Chow

It’s been a few days since I saw this in a packed-to-the-stone-rafters audience at Studio Theatre. I can’t think of anything new to say about it. Except that Jimmy Flannagan has perfected scene-stealing hilarity. This guy bounced from Gus in Arcadia to Man with Bags to Kimberly Akimbo to columbinus and now to one of the most sublime stoners I’ve ever seen in The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. James, I don’t know if you’re reading, but damn: you rock. And thanks for the shout-out with "EXTREME!!" -- splendid ad-lib.

The rest of the play was cool. And I remember all the criticism about the unearned ending and an underwritten, needlessly evil mother character. I agree for the most part -- OCD Jenny’s final meltdown is catalyzed by a particularly nasty suck-it-up-and-deal stunt from her adopted mother. It’s a move that no real mother would ever pull, especially after living with an OCD kid for that long. That it sends Jenny round the bend also doesn’t make much sense. But the final image of God sobbing helplessly and fluttering her hands in the dark after she fearfully expels her greatest creation is an arresting moment in its own right. Maybe my viewing was too clouded by the catchphrase “Intelligent Design,” but I saw a digital deity rendered pathetic and lonely because she needs her creations to experience Creation.


Coming shortly ...


amy said...

My boyfriend used to go to Towson with James and said that he's pretty hysterical in "...Jenny Chow". :) I enjoyed your thoughts on it, as they were similar to other thoughts I have heard from friends who have gone to see the piece. Did you know that it's premiering in NYC on August 31st? It's being presented by the 'Atlantic Theatre Company' through Oct. 16th...I'd be interested to see what they do with it. I'm leaving you far too many comments today...SCARY.

Anonymous said...

I realize that I am several posts behind here, but regarding FOLLY OF THE MOMENT - I feel inspired to share a little more of where it comes from. Tristan Tzara: pass it on.

"DADA - abolition of logic, dance of those incapable of creation...all objects, feelings and obscurities, every apparition and the precise shock of parallel lines...the absolute and indisputable belief in every god that is an immediate product of spontaneity...the trajectory of a word, a cry, thrown into the air like an acoustic disk; to respect all individuals in their folly of the strip one's church of every useless and unwieldy accessory, to spew out like a luminous cascade any offensive or loving thought...the roar of contorted pains, the interweaving of contraries and of all contradictions, freaks and irrelevancies: LIFE."

I may be behind, but seems pertinent anyway.

Mischeif managed. Back to my potato.


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arcticactor said...

Ah-HAH! Had no idea that's where "Folly of the Moment" came from. Hmmm. Abolition of logic? Have I gone that far off the deep end? Eish. Thanks for the source, Hester. Glad to hear from you again ...

Gwen said...


Having read your exceptionally well-laundered and educated rants, and being forced by proxy and lack of proper ammunition to agree with them, I have a worry.

If you actually have a day job (which I do) that is not in the theatre, then you will rub shoulders with all sorts of 9-to-5 people that know literally NOTHING about theater. Would you rather that they didn't come see it at all?
Let me be specific: If a gay-hatin, football-lovin, flag-wavin religious stereotype was somehow coerced into attending Doubt, and they thought 'gee i hates that thur theatro, it's gay...' and then during the show he came to at least some sort of revelation vis-a-vis his preconceptions about theatre, own political bent and personal life choices.... This is a good thing. I believe.

The value of art is completely subjective. It is an easy trap to become submerged in the minute, labyrinthine world of theatre academics, where every single intention of every single play is ripped apart as not being noble or perfect or far-reaching enough.
but here's my thing:

People see shitty theater every day. People in small towns create shitty, worse-than-waiting-for-guffman theatre every single day. And for them, it is a brave, vulnerable escape from their Friends and Fox-news-watching, corporate-run lives. Do you have equal condemnation of community theatre? Would you rather they not do it at all? I think that most of it is terrible. When I go see bad, sweet intentioned theatre, I have to remind myself that they are making a conscious choice to inject a soul into their otherwise artless lives. Can we condemn them as ignorant? Maybe. But I think that it is better that they try to see or do SOMETHING than to try nothing.

What I'm basically trying to say is, it's great that you're a theater snob. Most of us do it. And we need snobbery and articles and viciousness within the craft to keep the bar high. But when you begin viewing theater as something that is administrated, not a conversation within communities, that's where I have a problem. People go away from the theater thinking whatever they want, and if their last moment of emotional truth that week was found watching 'desperate housewives', then I'd really be glad if they went to see a shanley play, or a shitty outdoor version of the Tempest, because most american people do not go see theater.

feel free to rip me a new one, I know you like it.

by the way, my favorite play you've done is anarchist, it was a riotous time.

arcticactor said...


Wonderful point. People can argue the subjective nature of art only so far -- and that's when we all hit a wall and declare, "Well, I have a right to my opinion, so this is just where we differ." What worries me is when art dares to discuss important issues without empowering the audience in the process. I don't believe "Doubt" gives the viewer anything besides a handful of well-wrought performances. Our subjective entitlement is based on flimsy impressions we get from the characters -- not from facts or argument. So we immediately devolve into the shouting match that Shanley claims to hate -- with no avenue for resolution (i.e. finding the truth). The best we can hope for in these situations is to "agree to disagree," and that's not even the same thing as compromise! I think this kind of play plays very well to the FOX News crowd you mentioned because it engenders the same divisive shouting, with everyone at the table having half a thought to their name and no one discussing the real problem. The kid in question (like the off-stage black student in "Spinning Into Butter") is never heard from or introduced.

About community theatre. As someone who grew up hangning around the Des Moines Playhouse, I know what you're talking about. And I agree with you: much of it can be sub-guffman. But, you got a point: anything that gets people participating/watching/enjoying theatre is great. It's the same for any corner of human activity. I run every day, but I'm sure my piddly dash around the city looks laughable to any hardcore running snob out there. But just like community theatre, my amateur exercise is useful in its own right. People say the same thing about the Harry Potter books. Plenty of literary snobs are asked to shut up because, hey, at least kids are into reading instead of the Xbox for a moment. I wish community theatre included more local writing, too. That's the charming side of "Guffman" -- the characters were impaled on their Broadway aspirations, but the fact that a Missouri town got together to write, compose, direct, act, and design a musical out of sheer civic pride ... is pretty cool.

The snobbery enters here. We have many ways of getting more people to see theatre, if that's really our problem. But now that we got their money, what are we really giving them? Is it anything they couldn't find on television for free? I wrote a few posts ago about TV versus theatre and I think there's tons of excellent, useful, ingenious, entertaining stuff on TV. So why, oh why, does "Doubt" have to be a play when it's more accurately labeled "a parable"? I think that non-theatergoers will catch Doubt and like it, not because it shows them anything spiffy about theatre, but because it shows them that theatre can hurl simple-minded provocation, too. I'm of the belief that most people -- even those that match the Red-State profile you sketched out -- are much smarter than they know. Intelligence, like a good running heart-rate, can be cultivated with the right attitude.

So will it make them more likely to come back and see something else? Who knows. I hope so. I'd be happier if Doubt was something a local priest wrote in his spare time for his Midwestern community playhouse. But I have no idea why it's being lauded as one of the greatest plays ever written ... on a par with Eugene O'Neil and Arthur Miller, last I checked.

What do you mean by the difference between theatre that is "administrated" rather than "a conversation within communities"? I'm not asking for the power to choose who wins what award, or to decide who gets produced. If I were an Artistic Director, I guess my administrative choices would be pretty obvious. I'm throwing this all out there because I think the blogosphere can be one of those community conversations. So thanks for posting, Gwen. You make a great point; and since the Pulitzer seal will send Doubt off to every regional house in the country, it's probably worthwhile to consider their perspective, too.

H said...

Many feel safe with the belief that they have a maker. It makes them feel that they are important enough to be designed intelligently. But why is nature, not just nature? Nature is the intelligent design and man is the unknown that has undone its balance. We pollute it, tear it down, clear it away, and skew it so that the perfectly designed cosmos no longer works efficiently and when it is fucked up we invent entities so that we can transport the blame elsewhere.
Radical belief of any kind corrupts. It allows one to negate fact. To make way for ‘doubt’ to permeate until it becomes paralyzing. The only out for these folks is to cling to an ideology that absolves them of thinking for themselves. This is the sort of ideology that brings about 9/11 and the war in Iraq and the constant heartbreak of the Middle East. It is also the kind of thought that brings about denying a woman her right to choose, or keeping same sex partners from marrying, or putting religion into science class. It is hysterical that the blinders are on so tight here in America (the kind of hysterical that makes Canada look like a great place to relocate). We are tearing down the same sort of religious conservatism overseas that is being built here. I feel swept up in a movement that is exchanging science for myth, freedom for information, love for moral judgment, environment for money, and education for religion. Conservative Christianity is being infused into every day life. It is so pervasive it seeks to redefine the most basic of American values. It is trying to redefine science, to hijack its purity and make it a political tool.
Theatre that rides on this blind following is not helping the situation. I have not read Doubt, so I can’t speak to that, but I will say that theatre has the ability to out the ignorance. Theatre should not dumb down, rather elevate its audience. When our government seeks for the masses to be ignorant, theatre can be the tool to shed light, not increase confusion.
I don’t want ’what Jesus would do’ to eclipse ‘what Darwin would do’. But I feel that I am in the minority. I am not a great writer. So maybe it is time for your new play Death to Doubt (and look – it is not one word).


Anonymous said...

There was a queasiness inside me as I finished reading Doubt. Not stemming from the characters' dilemmas, but from the uncomfortable feeling that the painful issue of pedophilia had been conscripted for its commercial draw, well-fed by a steady stream of headlines over the last few years. Not that I think any social hot-button issue is off-limits (quite the contrary - the theatre should never shy away from incendiary topics), but to use this subject as a coat rack on which to hang simple "who-dunnit" frocks and habits...conspicuously avoiding deeper exploration and truths...well, this troubled me.

It must take a very sophisticated group of actors and director to tap-dance fast enough to stay out of the shadow of the sledge-hammer perennially poised over the stage. (Now why he didn't open up the subplot of the mother is truly puzzling!) I always try to keep in mind when reading new plays that these words represent a year or more of a writer's life, and that one doesn't give away this amount of time without conviction in what one has written, so I reserve final analysis for when I actually see this play on the stage...but I sure wish the Pulitzer folks had give their kudos to Clean House instead.

(and, oh yeah, Flanagan IS tops!)


jaderabbitt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaderabbitt said...

first of all, hi.
next time i'll say it in person.
you've obviously given us lots more to think about. i have hw to do now on intelligent design (and everything else). sincere thanks for that. you're probably gonna get tired of taking requests and answering questions from people you don't know pretty soon. a lot of people seem to expect a lot from you now. i wish you luck.
also, i sent a link to your blog to a group of friends who are currently quite taken with Doubt (we did a staged reading at UMd last semester), to shake things up a bit. just a heads up in case you start receiving angry comments from college students.
sorry to hear about all the car trouble. if only there were a way to turn that hamster wheel into a viable means of transportation. i still feel like i'm missing something there, but i do like the image.

-j (who was a pansy and didn't talk to you at studio)

yvette said...

actually, i think you may be taking the concept of Intelligent Design too close to heart when thinking about Jenny Chow. frankly, while we were in pre-production, we pretty much never talked about the concept of ID. (or at least david and i never talked about it in our meetings, but then again, you don't need to discuss ID to be able to deign the perfect terrycloth hoodie.) the only time i remember it being brought up was by a smarty-pants cast member at the first read. i also think that the popularity of the phrase has increased in the time since rolin wrote the play... which was his second year at yale... so it has been kicking around in one form of another since at least 2002.

not that it is not an element at all, it just was not emphasised in the studio production.

arcticactor said...

Cool. Thanks for the pre-production info, Yvette. Wonder why he used that title? On a related note, where can you get one of those NASA body suits these days? I'm entertaining ideas of being a vigilante super-hero at night and maybe you could help set up the motif ...

H said...

A friend sent me today. Enjoy

Anonymous said...

What a great discussion...and I find myself once again sucked in.

Just a couple thoughts on the teaching of ID and theatre for rednecks...

I understand and share the frustration we feel at the thought of science being forced into the footnotes of a biology textbook in favor of religion. But if you look at things with a perspective spanning hundreds rather than dozens of years, well, it still looks a little like progress. Not to say we're all greater concern is for the teaching of abstinence-only sex education. This is perhaps more damaging and dangerous than intelligent design. I am a product of a southern public school, and I speak in full sentences and haven't been a regular church-goer for more than 15 years. I certainly don't reject evolution. Quite the contrary. So don't lose heart. But don't get lazy, the price of freedom being eternal vigilance and all that...

On theatre for rednecks...I'll go out on a limb here and speak for those in the red-states. I grew up in two of them, actually, and my parents are quite conservative but also incredibly intelligent, well-read and well-spoken. This is not impossible and they are not the only ones. If we continue to treat people in those places as though they are ignorant, bible-humping, knuckle-dragging, cultureless homophobes, we will NEVER engage them. They are at least smart enough to recognize when they are being insulted. Don't simplify, underestimate and dehumanize them. It only deepens the divide. Not saying cater to it, just don't go at it with the arrogance that is all too easy to feel in Sunday School.

Despite the general ickyness of community theatre, I join those who celebrate it. That doesn't mean I hope to sit through some soon. But it all gets back to the purpose of art, doesn't it, and I often fall in the process over product category. I'm thinking of Holden Caulfield, playing his piano in the closet. If people grow and their perspectives widen through a painfully bad production of MacBeth, then I say rock on.

Just a thought. Or five.


Gwen said...

I agree, many 'red-state' denizens are highly-educated people, who just make a different decision than the collective-leftist-'we' do. I work with a woman whose conservative rich parents have recently stopped celebrating Christmas and Easter because they've discovered that most of its traditions come from pre-Christian pagan religions. Once again, good research, but an extreme reaction.

In regards to theatre,

I have to admit, I think I made a typo. I cribbed the catchphrase in my last comment from an interview with Danny Hoch where he talks about how much he dislikes theatre that stresses administering rather than incorporating. I think his point is that the audience should have a choice in what it feels during a performance, and that they should then shout out what they feel and shake the shit out of everyone. It's part and parcel of your TV vs. Theatre idea, because theatre should not be a gift delivered one-way with no awareness of how it lands or the effect it has. If the audience is upset/moved/pissed afterwards, every actor and techie should ideally know it, because they are part of a communication, and neither party should be disaffected afterwards.

My own dilemma is that as an audience member, some of the time i guiltily slip into TV-watching mode, where I want to just go and be entertained.
It happens rarely, but it still happens. Most of the time I would rather be challenged and shaken up a bit, but every once in a while the academic analysis beast rears its ugly head in my subconcious when I'd rather just be enjoying a play. Example: The Clean House, where I was having a great time until I started thinking about the 'magical negro' theory and how these characters were the same - a mystical laughing dancing minority culture that teaches the stiff WASPy protagonists how to love their lives, and then dies or disappears, having fulfilled their purpose.

the point is

What's the best way to move forward? Teach drama in a school up in rural Maryland? Get involved in inner-city kids programs or theatre-in-prison? I know I will not do any of these, because I know nothing about teaching, kids, or prison and I'm not brave enough at the moment to unearth my life to help others. But maybe someday.

Yesterday I saw Royal Hunt of the Sun, and while not blown away by it completely, I left very satisfied that it was a non-television-esque experience. And I am always heartened by the fact that most shows I attend have relatively full-capacity audiences. The old fat guy next to me was there, by himself, of his own choice...even if he was falling asleep through most of the play.

I gotta read doubt
but i don't want to spend my money on it. Maybe i'll steal it.

yvette said...

i customized that particular one. NASA doesn't actually sell a pre-fab robot get up.

but i can totally hook you up with a super-hero unitard. i would feel like edna from the incredibles! i might even be able to cut you a deal since we have been pals for so long, but you will have to provide your own dance belt.

SAS said...

Heh, heh, heh. Arctic actor in a mantard.

Wow, you snooze you lose on this blog. Ideas get batted around faster than crackpot scientific theories.

Hester and Gwen - absolutely right about the northeasterner elitism directed towards the "red states". As long as we diminish the idea that the conservative folks in this country can be bright and educated, then we eliminate the possibility of actual dialogue.

And I agree that sex education (or lack thereof) in parts of our country is a very scary thing. I don't know if it is something that can be quantified though, in terms of which is more frightening - ID or abstinence only programs. ID is dismissing truth, while abstinence only is avoiding truth. Both are scary.

My father taught middle school and high school science for thirty years. He then started teaching teachers how to teach science. He just moved to a new town, five hours away from where he spent the past thirty years, and he and my mother moved to a house about a block away from a Junior High. We were taking a walk around their new neighborhood, and we stopped outside of the school. My father gazed up at it, and said wistfully, "I just hope they're teaching good science there."

I guess growing up with someone who values above nearly all else the teaching of "good science" (and by that he means accurate, engaging, thrilling approaches to, yes - biology, chemistry and earth science) the idea of Intelligent Design hit me particularly hard.

I mean, what's next, you know?

And finally - my one thought on the Shanley debacle (having never read or seen DOUBT). Lee Blessing was in town discussing playwrighting for the summer sessions of ACTF sponsored workshops. The subject of Shanley came up, and how suddenly he was NY theater's darling. Mr. Blessing kind of chuckled, as if to say, yeah - we don't quite get it either. Not in a spiteful way – but just – like, that is the wonder of theater. There are these guys like Blessing and Shanley who have been writing for decades. And every once in a while – something takes.

As I recall, Blessing liked the play.

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