There's not much political theater in America for the same reason there's not much myth: consumerism separates and involutes; consumerist theater teaches audiences how to watch TV. We have no sense of the world. We have miles of ocean on either side of ourselves, and benign neighbors to the north and south. We don't believe other countries/cultures/histories really count, so we're lazy about defining our own country (we stop with sentiment, which is the most self-referential of emotions). Our country advertises itself as a haven for self-determination; myth goes as far as a generation; we get dysfunctional family plays, or political plays that are about headlines (about advertisements for horror). Kroetz, however, can write a dysfunctional family play that is also political and mythical, because he has a political understanding of morality, of a national soul, and of individual choices reflecting on a collective condition. In the American tradition of script development, we ask: "What is this supposed to mean to me. Why should I care about these people? What is the psychological subtext?" (As if there were no radical truth in text.) Properly, a play should bring audience members into the question: "Where are we?" And that question, unanswered, is the sufficient experience of drama.

Or: our theater is already political, because of the act of making theater is inherently political. It organizes people socially around abstract principles; it proposes that there is action in assembly, in focus on an infinite present tense, in the making of nothing but assembly and a present. Theater, forcefully executed, is a form of reproach; it is utopian. When theater fails to recognize this potential, and turn its back on its charge to resist the market's necropolitan obsessions with past (nostalgia) and future (pie in the sky), then it is left with no option but to whine, "Nobody cares; it's so hard to earn a living..." It's supposed to be hard. -- E.E.

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