It's a good thing I don't work in theatre. If I did, I'd get fired after about five minutes. I've been fired for my opinion, before, so I ought to know better. But there you go.
I just received an ad, or rather a little brochure, for the next production at Intiman. It is a lovely brochure, with appealing artwork by Jeff Kleinsmith and Dustin Summers. The layout is clean and straightforward. Nice fonts and good color contrast. Also, a note from Intiman's Artistic Director Bart Sher. He looks like a nice man, but I wouldn't know.
The only thing I don't like about this brochure is the play it advertises: The Skin Of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder. Before anyone protests (we do love to protest, in Seattle), let me say that I do not dislike the choice of play because I think a big company like Intiman ought to produce MY plays. I realize that a theatre that size needs to subsidize more risky projects with big, well-known plays everyone read in high school.
I didn't merely read this one in high school. I acted in it, in a couple of small roles. So I know the brochure's description is apt: "...a tribute to the indomitable human will not just to survive, but to persevere until we triumph over natural and man-made disasters alike..."
That's what I have trouble with: that message. Here we have an American classic being offered to the public as a warm soothing balm, a reassurance that, heck, folks will keep on keepin' on, no matter what.
I hate that message. You can see it any time, on TV. It says: Stay fat, it doesn't matter. Change the channel, don't watch your fellow citizens drowning in their own homes. Don't join the political debate online, because it's so stressful! Take a walk in the sunshine, bubby, because humanity is gonna be A-OK.
If you have children, or any loved ones, of course this is a message you want to hear. We all want to hear good news. But the fact is: Right now, there isn't any. You really do need to get off the couch, and admit that your kids hate you and they can't read because their school has no money for books, and if your neighborhood is hit by a disaster you will get NO HELP from your government. In fact, the so-called president will sit on HIS fat ass, twanging out a tune on his guitar while you die.
You and I are responsible for torturing and killing people we don't even know. And if you get online and complain about it, you can expect to be targeted by incompetent surveillance specialists.
No good news today, bubby. The only thing we're set to triumph over is our own sense of decency.
Art doesn't have to make us face facts. It can be fun, beautiful, entertaining, even silly. But when all the art is silly, we've got a problem. And when art reassures us that there is no problem, even as we stare into the gaping maw of abject social failure, then somebody cares more about making a dollar off our gob-smacked ignorance than about putting the truth out there. Because we all know how popular the truth is, don't we?