Saturday, July 31, 2010

Arts Subsidies

Serendipitously, shortly after I read this depressing piece of news:
Tax dollars from the very governments he's convicted of plotting to blow up are helping ensure the curtain goes up next week on a "sympathetic portrayal" of one of the members of the so-called Toronto 18 terror plotters.
The autobiographical play chronicles playwright Catherine Frid's more than a year of visits with Abdelhaleem in jail as he awaited trial.
Frid says the play is about raising questions around the criminal justice system that convicted him and the sweeping legislation police used to bust the Toronto 18 and charge them with terrorism crimes.
I then was reminded of this excellent essay about a real playwright:
Mamet dismisses state subsidy for the theatrical arts as no more than a means of propping up incompetent “champions of right thinking” whose work would otherwise be incapable of attracting an audience. Such playwrights, he says, are purveyors of politically correct “pseudodramas” that “begin with a conclusion (capitalism, America, men, and so on, are bad) and award the audience for applauding its agreement.” For Mamet, such plays are the opposite of true theater, whose power lies not in its willingness to coddle our preconceptions but its unparalleled ability to shock us into seeing the world as it really is. “In the great drama,” he writes, “we follow a supposedly understood first principle to its astounding and unexpected conclusion. We are pleased to find ourselves able to revise our understanding.”
Could one find a better confirmation of Mamet's point?
Shakespeare was a real playwright. Chekhov was a real playwright. Mamet, too. I doubt Catherine Frid is. Of course I would have to see one of her plays to know, and I probably won't ever. But it appears the brain-dead agencies have decided I have to pay for it anyways.
h/ts too complicated to assign becausde of the sheer serendipity.


At 7:03 PM, Blogger Patrick Ross said...

This play shouldn't receive a red cent of federal funding -- whether directly or indirectly.

I'm with Norm Kelly on this one -- freedom of expression doesn't mean freedom of investment.


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