An apparently liberal theatre group in Madison, Wisconsin, is playing victim in response to pushback they’ve gotten for putting on a play that has liberal grad students murdering “right-wingers.” Hey, we take jabs at the Left, too, or so goes the claim. But comments from the theatre’s artistic director, Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe, while marketing the event, provides links to the Tea Party and the Arizona illegal immigration issue. Bledsoe presents the production as an outlet for frustration from the nation’s current Right-turn. One can only imagine the outrage were a Southern religious university to produce a play that had “redneck” Christians killing them a bunch of liberals, while making jokes about themselves in the process….
Why am I thinking that nuance would get lost in any press coverage?
MADISON, Wis. — Religion is at center stage of a new play from Madison’s Mercury Players Theatre that is stirring up controversy over its political tone. “The Last Supper” is provoking more than just strong reviews. The director is getting hate mail. “I did hear that we were compared to Nazis at one point,” said director Doug Holtz.
The “Mercury Players Theatre production is about liberal college students who invite some incredibly conservative guests to dinner and then kill them. “We did contact the police, and they felt that due to the nature of some of the e-mails and responses, that they were so intense that maybe some security would be advised,” said Holtz.
Now, take a look at some local coverage and commentary from Jenkins-Bledsoe of the Mercury Theatre. She is invoking political frustration on the part of liberals as a reason to enjoy the show in which conservatives are murdered. How that suddenly becomes nothing more than a moral discussion once the lights go down and the curtain goes up remains unclear. Obviously, the artistic director is appealing to the worst instincts within her presumably liberal audience to drum up interest in the production. Do Madison liberals sit around and fantasize about killing conservatives? Bledsoe would seem to think so, but then, perhaps she would know, assuming she’s a liberal, too.
In effect, says Mercury’s artistic director, if you are bothered by a presumed Right-shift in America, getting together for some yuks while liberal grad students murder a bunch of Right-wingers should be great fun and just the thing if you’re a Madison liberal! This from The Daily Page:
Liberal grad students have a plan for right wingers, 1/21-2/12, Bartell Theatre’s Drury Stage, showing 8 pm Thursdays-Saturdays and 6 pm Sundays. $15 (talkbacks with playwright Dan Rosen & actress Nora Dunn follow 1/28-29 shows). 661-9696 ext. 5“The Last Supper is a perfect Mercury fit. Mercury strives to keep our art current, poignant, radical and a bit raw — so does Dan Rosen’s The Last Supper. If you have felt helpless and unheard through the outrage of our own culture right now – through Arizona, through the Tea Party, through Madison’s own political turn – then this is the show for you!” said Mercury’s Artistic Director, Rachel Jenkins-Bledsoe.
So much for the New Tone.