Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Would you recommend a Pinot Noir with my Protest?

Last night I went out to catch one of the local productions of Lysistrata being staged around the District as part of the world-wide Lysistrata Project. (600+ cities hosted readings/stagings of the Greek anti-war play as a theatrical peace protest Monday night.) I didn't stay for the whole thing...so many local peaceniks showed up that I was left standing in the back of the room out of earshot, or eyeshot. If that's a word. But generally I was disillusioned by the specter of such a comfortable protest. This particular reading was held in a bistro that doubles as a performance space in the schwanky Dupont Circle district. So maybe I had it coming by going there instead of to the reading at the edgier U Street district. But there was something uncomfortable about all these society ladies and gentlemen with their bottles of wine and their kalamata olive nibblies and their pearls. The stakes of this war are pretty dire and passions are riding high on both sides, and it seemed somehow dishonest to count this "evening of theatah" as a political act. It looked to me like everyone was just enjoying their evening production, clapping in the appropriate places when the man introducing the play informed us that "90% of humans think that this war sucks!" It was, to say the least, not exactly the crowd I was expecting to encounter. Looking around the space, I saw the few lone 20-somethings, shamefully underdressed like myself, perhaps with a button or two on their backpacks, looking a little uncomfortable and bewildered at the incongruity of it all. Upon further reflection, I wonder if this isn't partly a product of the lack of a vibrant theater scene in D.C. I mean, maybe all these well-dressed ladies really do just want to see some plays that are more street-level than The Kennedy Center. I remember in Chicago, you couldn't get 5 people in a room together without them starting a theater company. Maybe the standing room only crowd wasn't just the weirdest and most unlikely group of protesters, but people hungry for a little local drama. Unfortunately, I don't see it happening. Any theater talent worth its salt has no business being in this town when New Yawk is just a couple hours up the road.


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