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Posts Tagged ‘How Theater Failed America’

Jerry Manning

Mike Daisey’s How Theater Failed America

May 19th, 2011 by Jerry Manning

Confession. I have to admit that I approached last night’s performance of Mike Daisey’s How Theater Failed America with a lot of hesitation.

I even said to Mike at one point that I was boycotting the piece. He smiled.

I mean, where does Mike get off lampooning the very system that produces his work?  I mean, how dare he attack the system that has been my home and nurtured me for almost 30 years?  How dare he?

But then I thought, “How dare I pass judgment on a show I’d never seen?” Right? I remember casting a Paul Rudnick play in New York called The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told wherein Adam and Eve become Adam and Steve, and the Blessed Mother gives birth to the Christ Child while her lesbian partner coaches her through the delivery. We got some letters on that one, shall we say. A lot of those letters were from a group called the Society of Mary. Many of the letters were postmarked Iowa. I’m pretty sure none of Mary’s legions had actually seen the show. I was so quick to dismiss their criticism because they hadn’t seen the show.

Well, last night I saw How Theater Failed America. Surprise. Rather than being an indictment of the state of American theater, I found the piece to be an unexpected valentine to theater and the many and assorted miscreants who work therein. Mike’s passion was infectious. If he criticizes, he criticizes because he cares—and he cares very, very deeply.

Afterwards there was a panel discussion. I just want to say: I love Elizabeth Kenny. Please go to see her new piece called SICK at New City Theater—it’s so good. The panel was pretty well behaved. Maybe a little more poo-throwing could have been interesting. But I always love hearing what Allison Narver has to say. Ditto Hans Altwies.

I also learned that I missed one of the great performances in Seattle theatrical history. Oh, to have been witness to Mike Daisey’s full Kabuki masturbating bishop.

If you missed the performance last night (which was a benefit for Intiman artists, and which raised over over $8500 with donations still coming in), you can watch this clip from the show from when Mike performed in in 2009.

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