Friday, August 11, 2017

I Do Remember the Curve of Hotspur's Butt

Hey kids! Yesterday I went to a performance of Henry IV Part One at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, in which the notorious marcher lord Harry Percy was played by a woman. As was his/her relative the poisonous Earl of Worcester, and Sir Richard Vernon.

In other words, the rebel alliance were all played by women! Hello liberal woman director Lileana Blain-Cruz. You really don't get women as marcher lords raging about everything and damning everyone to hell and back again while they work up a head of rebellion. Not in the real world. Women don't operate that way, which anyone would know unless their education had been confined to sex-denialism at an Ivy League university.

Women get their way in the world by manipulating the current system, as in manipulating tech companies like Google into hiring more women software engineers. They rarely get their way in the world by overturning the system or working at a tech startup. It's the science, baby.

But the bigger problem is that it really doesn't make sense to cast a woman into a role where she is having a knife fight with a man. And it really doesn't make sense to cast a woman into a role where the most notable thing about her is the snug fit of her camo pants. And it really doesn't make the point when the said woman, cast in a role as a quarrelsome troublemaking marcher lord, gets killed and dragged off stage by the coward Falstaff. You see, m'lady, men are expendable, so it doesn't matter if the Percys lose a son or two. But the death of every woman is a debit against posterity. Because the most notable thing about women is that they bear children, and men do not.

And again, why do we have two or three babes in skimpy white-trash low-cut bar-girl getups with a Dolly Parton lookalike Mistress Quickly? Isn't that, like, sexist? Isn't it, like, propagating vile liberal race and gender stereotypes? Shouldn't there, like, be a black rent-boy at the Boar's Head Tavern, just to make it diverse and inclusive? Whatever.

Of course, why would we expect a liberal woman with a double-barrel surname and an Ivy League MFA degree to have the least clue about high politics and aristocratic warfare in the late Middle Ages? Where would she learn such stuff? What masters degrees would be out there? What intern opportunities? What grant prospects? Imagine the microaggressions and unsafe spaces she would encounter in the process!

Never mind. Because after two clueless productions from two clueless directors with Ivy League MFA degrees that mangled two great cultural monuments of western culture into silly putty we got to see, here at Ashland, a numinous performance of The Odyssey, adapted and produced by Mary Zimmerman.

It may truly be said that Zimmerman lived up to the OSF's Mission Statement to produce "illuminating interpretations" on its stages.

Really, it wasn't more than ten minutes into The Odyssey that I turned and said "now we're talking."

Of course, The Odyssey is a corker of a story, with the universal themes of loss and the heartbreak of separation and the emotion supercharge of reunion. But then The Merry Wives of Windsor is a magnificent romp, and Henry IV Part One is a magnificent disquisition on ambition and betrayal and coming-of-age and I know not what.

The point is that the usual idiots can wreck a cultural icon as well as any man in Illyria.  To make the cultural icon come alive and move and illuminate the hearts and minds of the audience takes something more.

And my feeling is that the liberal rage for diversity and inclusion is not just going to vandalize the great monuments of western culture. It is going to end up by ruining liberalism itself. Let us take our text from Eric Hoffer:
Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.
I think that our liberal friends have got right through the movement stage, have burned through most of the business stage, and are deep in the racket stage. And really, when you are in the racket stage you are  just a bunch of gang-bangers with more testosterone than sense.

As in: three of the plays I have watched here at Ashland over the past three days have been directed by women and minorities with Ivy League MFA degrees.

Does not that smell like a bit of a racket? As in the interview policy of Google with softball interviews for Ivy Leaguers and diversity hires. Only the three directors here at Ashland are minority/women and Ivy Leaguers.

Mary Zimmerman is the daughter of a physics professor and a comparative literature professor. And she went to Northwestern. So strictly speaking, she is not an Ivy Leaguer, although with two professor parents it does count as two strikes against her.

But maybe that Northwestern bit makes a difference. Or maybe it is that Mary Zimmerman has found a way to break out of the liberal bubble and speak to us all.

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