Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Pair of Plays

I recently finished a couple of plays, both written in the 1970s — John Guare's Marco Polo Sings a Solo and David Rabe's Streamers.  I am a big fan of the theatre, preferring to see a play performed than just reading it, but I love getting my hands on any good text to read, whether drama, poem, prose, or whatever.


Like any other texts, both of the plays are, to a degree, a product of their time.  It was fun reading both, and I imagine either would be fun to watch in performance.

Rabe's play centers on two main issues, racism and homophobia. I was thinking as I read it that it reflects a shift at that time in history in which racism was being joined by other forms of prejudice in the national consciousness in the US. Seeing the two issues juxtaposed as they are in this place makes for an interesting study, and I would think that one could spend a good deal of time exploring the connection between the two forms of prejudice during that particular period in history. And, of course, neither has really gone away now, though I would like to think some progress has been made over the past 30-40 years since the play was written.


I actually liked Marco Polo Sings a Solo even better than Streamers.   It is a quirky, oddly perceptive play.  It shares some concerns with Streamers, though it approaches them all quite differently.  Whereas Rabe's cast is pretty small and all takes place in an army barracks, Guare stretches the mind to the future, and into the far reaches of space.  The future of the play, 1999, is today's past, but that does not really diminish the intriguing nature of the work.

I would recommend these plays to anyone who likes to read thought-provoking texts, and I would happily pay to see either play if it were staged in my area.


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