Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Who Is Stage Right?

Who Is Stage Right?

Is the theatre world really that fascist in suppressing all thought out of lockstep with its supposed group thinking that conservative theatre bloggers must go completely underground? Are the reprisals against such individuals that severe that individuals can no longer exercise their freedom of speech?

That appears to be the case according to a "veteran of the Broadway theatre industry" now writing anonymously since early January as Stage Right, one of a host of unabashedly conservative bloggers whose writings are aggregated on "Andrew Breitbart Presents Big Hollywood" Web site.

But don't let that fear of retribution fool you. This Stage Right is one heck of a flamethrower, taking on everyone and everything from Frank Rich to Wicked from his hidden bunker somewhere out there. In fact, Stage Right sees his segment of the entertainment industry as follows:

If the entertainment industry leans left, then the theatre world is left of left. And if theatre is left of left, then the theatre actor’s UNION is so far left they consider Dennis Kucinich the reasonable alternative to Ralph Nader.
Personally, the friendships I value most are those that challenge me, as well as my points of view, whether on politics, theatre or, well, you name the topic. It keeps me on my toes and requires me to actually think, thus avoiding intellectual laziness. Talk about a novel concept. I can only hope it makes me a better person.

Similarly, as regular readers know, if there's one American liberty I value above all others, it's our freedom of speech. I may not always agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend your right to say it.

But before I defend your right to say it, I usually like to know who you are.

POSTSCRIPT (5.10.09, 9:30 a.m. EST): It should be noted that according to his description:
Stage Right posts at Big Hollywood in anonymity not for professional reasons, but out of deference to his spouse who still maintains deep friendships with many members of the theatrical industry.
This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 10 February, 2009, Blogger crossoverman said...

I find it deeply ironic that he published his Wicked critique on January 20th, defending George W Bush to the last minute against attacks from the left in the form of Wicked's subtext. I think my biggest issue with writing criticism specifically from a right-wing political perspective is that this seems to be the sole focus of the reviews and discussions. I feel that reviews should critique things on numerous levels, not whether or not it conforms to your personal political framework.

To be fair, he does suggest the show is worth seeing for other reasons - but the focus of his blog demands everything else to be pushed to the side. Now I certainly criticise shows, plays and films for bad political subtext that I see from my point of view - "the left of the left", as Stage Right might call me. But then I weigh it up against whether that affects my enjoyment of the show.

The only explicit reference to Bush is the "regime change" line, even though other subtext supports that reading - the show's political angle does have its origins in the book. Now while I have also discussed how Wicked criticises the Bush administration, I think it's a bit disingenuous to slight the whole show for two words.

He also seems to disagree with empathising with Elphaba - which is seems very right wing, not to empathise with "the other". I would understand critiquing the show for tackling the subject quite simplistically (at least compared to the book), but to lambast the entire premise of the play shows little insight.

At 10 February, 2009, Blogger Esther said...

Hey Steve,
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I've been looking over some of the posts and comments. I agree with you totally - debate is good, different opinions are good. It would indeed be a boring world if we all agreed on everything! But this person seems mean-spirited and some of the comments are downright ugly. That's what I find troubling. And it's all done anonymously, of course.

At 16 February, 2009, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

There are quite a few "OUT" right wing theatre critics- Terry Teachout is right-wing. Ultra right-wing conservative commentator Mark Steyn wrote a book about Broadway. And I believe a certain other reviewer who reviews shows for Talking Broadway has right wing views, judging from his reviews of right wing books on Amazon.

At 16 February, 2009, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

And by "OUT"- I mean "OUT" as right wing.

At 23 June, 2009, Blogger Stage Right said...

Forgive me for just now seeing your post. I have just recently begun to look for any comments on the blogosphere realted to my posts at Big Hollywood. I appreciate your taking the time to read and link to my post.

Regarding my not using my real name: As opposed to Mark Steyn or Terry Teachout, I am actually in the theatre industry. I am blogging about the industry as an avocation but it does not pay my bills. If you want to know why I find it important to hide some of my political views, I invite you to read my post about Scott Eckern, formerly of the Sacramento Music Theatre.


I'm sorry Esther thinks some of my comments are mean-spirited. Which ones exactly? I do use some attention grabbing language here and there, but I think that is common to the genre of the blogging world, no?

and to crossoverman: I don't think my post just focused on the regime change line. I spent quite a bit of time quoting Mr. Schwartz himself. And the fact that the creators of Wicked steered away from the Nazi/Fascist target of the novel and focused it more on the Bush Administration. Schwartz said: "In fact, it may be argued that the Wizard in Gregory’s book is somewhat like Hitler, whereas the Wizard in the show has resemblances to George W. Bush and other American politicians. This doesn’t make the show less political; it merely makes it different in its political targets."

I think there was more substance to my post than just the two words. But it points out a larger picture: Nearly half of the voting population of this country favored President Bush and his policies... yet the one-liners and perspectives that I point out are very common in the American theatre... there doesn't seem to be a person in the room at the creative or production level who says: "Wait a minute... this is going to rub people the wrong way and make them defensive as an audience." And, in my experience, if someone were to say that, they would not be around the table very long.

I love the dialogue and I hope we can keep it up.

I hope to be able to "Come out of the closet" rather soon.

At 23 June, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Stage Right, Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I invite you to e-mail me directly at steve.on.broadway@hotmail.com if you're interested in continuing a dialogue privately.


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