Saturday, December 01, 2007

Move Over Shakespeare

Parkside Theatre will soon be performing "The Laramie Project." The play is "the most frequently produced play on college campuses since its 1999 debut" according to the article in the Journal Times. The play explores the impact of the gruesome murder of a gay student named Matthew Shepard.

Reviews of the play and scrutiny of the plays supporters suggest that it is highly political, with pro gay and anti Christian themes as well as advocacy for hate crime legislation.

My point here is NOT to diminish the horror experienced by Matthew Shepard, nor is it to criticize homosexuals, or to advocate for Christianity, or to weigh in one way or the other on hate crime legislation, or even to criticize Parkside for their choice of plays.

My point here IS to wonder aloud about the political culture on college campuses across the country, assuming the truth in the claim that the "Laramie Project" is indeed the most produced play on college campuses. Is the point of theatre to advance political causes? Must every aspect of a college education be politicized?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

The right has it's own political agenda, so they see ghosts behind every rock.

Since when is a play about a hate murder a political act? Is a show about Nelson Mandela's imprisonment in South Africa, or Martin Luther King's murder ploitical?

No! It is history.

Last I went to the University, the act of learning was about gaining knowledge as to drive out the ignorance which keeps so many people trapped in false beliefs.

Am Grandad said, who fled Poland, and watched his family in Poland live under tyrany, 'Learn - noone can take away your learning.'

Michael Gibson said...

I see your point, but honestly, I think that that sort of subject matter just tends to be popular right now.

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Denis Navratil said...

Michael, you are simply stating the obvious. Of course the most frequently produced play is "popular right now." Why do you suppose that is?

anon, as usual you are in complete denial of reality. To suggest that the Laramie Project is apolitical because it is historical is just nonsense. A play can be both historical and political.

But lets go with your premise. If the play is merely historical and not political, then what does this say about the education going on at college campuses, particularly with respect to the teaching of history. It would say to me that the murder of a gay student in Wyoming is of greater significance than world wars, the development of western civilization, the study of ancient Greek or Roman culture etc...

Anonymous said...

No.
It says that hate crimea and other injustices cannot be overlooked, as there are meny homo=phobes in positions of power in this country.

Have you kept up with the militaries 'don't ask don't tell' policy?

Denis Navratil said...

Anon, you are contradicting yourself. First you write that the play is apolitical, then you write that it is about injustices, powerful homophobes and military policy. Which is it? Political or apolitical?

John Foust said...

Uhm, are you suggesting that life would be much better if they did "Our Town" over and over again? Or maybe "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum"?

Denis Navratil said...

To John Foust, no.

Michael Gibson said...

Well it is a popular issue because there is a presidential election next year and thats a hot issue. Gay rights is important to a lot of people these days, and not just college students. It has nothing to do with teaching a political agenda in college, but it is obviously a political play. To be teaching a political agenda it would have to be a mandatory attendance event.

John Foust said...

Maybe look at it from a free market standpoint. They pick plays they know will draw an audience.

Anonymous said...

Politics...a left/right issue.

Social ethics and issues are NOT politics...it is life.

No contradiction...

colt said...

Social ethics and issues are NOT politics...it is life.

Evertything is politics, from how Gay Marrage is being shoved down the public throats to the insane Sodia tax being talked about in Madison.

Something as simple of Film Tax credits is very polilical even when tax credits make so much sense.

Denis Navratil said...

I see varying degrees of denial here. Please answer the following question. What is the likelihood that the second most popular play on college campuses features a gay person murdering a Christian and the exploration/condemnation of hatred towards Christians? Of course, if you are honest, you would recognize instantly that that kind of play would never be popular on college campuses today. Indeed, if any college produced a play that portrayed gays in a negative light (I am not suggesting that they do), there would be protests at the college.

Anonymous said...

I disagree...everything is 'politicized'.
Everything is NOT politics.
A problem with partisanship today is they make EVERYTHING into politics.

It just is NOT reality.

concrete katie said...

Kent State,
Mayor Daley and the Chicago Convention Riots,
Various Marches on Washington,
CAN'T WE GET ALONG????

The death of Matthew Shepard was a particularly poignant tragedy and a story of a compelling young man who had no chance against prejudice. Matthew's death burned itself into our consciousness.

It is appropriate that college campuses revisit this. Because it is a real crime story it is by its nature political as well as criminal as well as horrifying.

Katrina said...

This play is just another play. Thats all it is. I can see why you wonder Dennis but the same could be said about any number of plays. For example Greese, are we promoting that lifestyle everytime that play is produced?