Tuesday, November 11, 2008
3 War Shows, Just In Time For Veteran's Day
I didn't plan this, but in the 4 days before Veteran's Day, I saw 3 shows related to wars and military--The Roundabout Theatre production of Streamers, The National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch, and a York Theatre Company reading of Yank!.
This season, both on and off Broadway is all about the testosterone, with two Mamet shows and Billy Elliot, to name a few. Perhaps this is a reaction to last year's season of women, with shows like August: Osage County and Top Girls. The only woman in any of the three shows I saw was Nancy Anderson in Yank!, who played all the female roles. It's a boy's life, indeed.
Though very different in their approach, the three shows deal with questions about what it means to be a man. Streamers, directed by Scott Ellis and written by David Rabe in 1976, takes place during the Vietnam War. Though it is the only one in which the characters are not actually fighting, but waiting to go to go to war, it is the goriest of the three. Black Watch, directed by John Tiffany and Gregory Burke, is about members of the Black Watch regiment of the Scottish Army during the Iraq War. Although it is not a musical, the whole piece is beautifully choreographed. Yank!, directed by Igor Goldin with music by Joseph Zellnik and book and lyrics by David Zellnik, mostly focuses on the relationship between two men in the army during World War II.
It's sad how little has changed in the over 60-year time span during which the three shows take place. We're in a war with many similarities to Vietman. In Yank!, the main character wants homosexuality to become acceptable and makes a comment about how things will change probably by 1949 or 1950, which gets a laugh from the audience. In light of the passage of Proposition 8, there is still a long way to go.
I'm looking forward to seeing what change President-elect Barack Obama will bring in the future. For now, I think I'll take a break from all this heavy war stuff, at least until Prayer for My Enemy opens at Playwrights Horizons next month.