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Everyone is getting good money for all this — the six-figure bureaucrats who run the Public Theater, the actors, and the supplementary staff. So who’s paying?
Well, the producers, have no risk in this enterprise. Like good capitalists they have cleverly transferred the risk to the taxpayers of New York City, New York State, and the United States of America — at least in part. From the taxes paid by people like Joe Boski who lives in Astoria and cleans boilers and never heard of the Delacorte Theater, much less what’s playing there. And Shirley Strauss, a widow who works half-time as a nurse’s aid in Skaneateles, New York, and has never been to the theater in her life. And John Marks, who works at the Bangor Broom Factory making straw brooms for two dollars over the minimum wage and who shoots rabbits on Saturdays to put meat on the family table. Bertold Brecht? Who’s he? Each of these folks contributes a few dollars to the budget of “Mother Courage” at the Delacorte Theater without knowing it.p>If Brecht knew what was going on here, what would he say? br> /p> blockquote>The rich are still busting my balls br> only they’re stars now not queens, br> and they need to get their political rocks off.
Who’s still riding on whose back?/blockquote> br> The problem with the Public Theater is that even though the taxpayer supports it he has no input into the kinds of plays that are produced, unlike the commercial theater where the audience members have something to say about the quality of what they see. Where the marketplace has no input the ideology of the bureaucrats determines what is financed and presented. And over the last thirty years that has turned out to be largely attuned to the sensibilities and politics of the left — gays, feminists, and black minorities. So the real beneficiaries of this system are the denizens of Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side and not the “Public.”
There’s a bit of an East German Workers Paradise mentality once you fall within the orbit of the Public Theater. The ticket distribution system is a case in point. Once you become a waiter-in-line you are treated very strictly and lectured frequently about where you may or may not stand or sit or lie down; when you may go to the bathroom and for how long; what you may eat and where you may eat it. All these rules, you are told, is because they must treat everyone the same. Worker efficiency, competence, courtesy are devalued, and you, the person paying for all this, become the supplicant since they’ve set it up so that they hold all the cards.
The notion that the tickets are “free” is nonsense. In order to get them you have to spend many hours doing the work of waiting. Lines were part of life behind the Iron Curtain, because nothing worked efficiently. Now the Public Theater has managed to set the economics of entertainment back fifty years.
BUT PERHAPS THE MOST INTERESTING IRONY is the Public Theater’s misunderstanding of the play. The production is, from start to finish, meant to be an anti-war/anti-Bush statement. That is, no doubt, why important big-money stars like Streep and Kline were drawn to this project. And with Tony Kushner (a born-again pacifist/socialist) in the bargain to modernize the language what could be more fun?
There are plenty of anti-war cliches which the audience laps up because of the way the actor delivers the line: “To go by what the big shots say, they’re waging war for almighty God and in the name of everything good and lovely. But look closer, they ain’t so silly, they’re waging it for what they can get. Else little folk like me wouldn’t be in it at all.” But the main thrust of the play is about something quite different.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?