Saturday, September 4, 2010

September Blogroll Updates / "This World is Good"

Added to the category "San Franciscans": Dark Knight Dramaturgy, the blog of a playwright, dramaturg, and literary department staffer at ACT. Like me, he has lived in the Bay Area for 2 years and has recently committed to making his blog a "Bay Area Theater Blog." I hope we can meet someday!

Moved from the category "San Franciscans" to the category "Other Blogs I Enjoy": Rants, Raves, and Rethoughts, as blogger/playwright J. C. Lee has just moved to NYC to attend Juilliard. Congrats!

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to see one of Lee's plays for the first time: "This World is Good" produced by Sleepwalkers Theatre. Big thanks to the folks at Sleepwalkers for contacting me and offering me a comp ticket--this blogging thing can have its perks! (Though I should also note that I would definitely have gone to see "This World Is Good" even without being comped, because I like Lee's blog so much; so perhaps we can reduce this to the lesson that All Playwrights Should Have Blogs.) Because of Sleepwalkers' generosity, I therefore feel guilty that life got in the way and prevented me from writing about "This World is Good" until now, when it's closed. My apologies!

"This World is Good" is the first in Lee's "trilogy about the end of the world" (Sleepwalkers will present the other 2 plays in April and August 2011). The other two plays are postapocalyptic, but this one counts as a "period piece," strange as that sounds--it's a play about the 1990s, starting on the day of Kurt Cobain's death and ending at the turn of the millennium.

Like the Dark Knight Dramaturg, I was fascinated by the way that "This World is Good" is a play for my generation. The Dramaturg writes:
I think what I love most about being a 28-year-old theater practitioner: playwrights of my generation are, right now, finding their voices and finding their audiences. This World is Good is a play for people who have had long, dark philosophical arguments about Watchmen, and take solace in video games when they lose said arguments. It is for a generation that values Mario as a culture icon and thinks that anyone who does not know about Star Wars is culturally illiterate. It is also a play for a generation of closet nihilists who—without the concreteness of world war or nuclear holocaust—find nebulous threats of global destruction in the confusion of the Middle East, the unpredictability of terrorism, the mysteries of climate change, and the realities of financial implosion. It is also a play for the Third Millennium, the millennium of the dork.
For me, the fascination was less with the "nerd culture" aspects of it (since I am pretty culturally illiterate when it comes to comic books and video games) and more with the geopolitical/historical events that influence the characters' lives and perspectives. I think it's interesting that Lee chose to begin his apocalyptic trilogy in the '90s, which I remember as being a pretty awesome and carefree decade, compared to the one that came afterward. But maybe, indeed, that's when the seeds of our current anxieties were sown...

Being a play by a young writer that wove many key events of my '90s childhood into the script, This World is Good reminded me of Chinaka Hodge's Mirrors in Every Corner, which I saw and loved last March. (Bonus link for the long weekend: The Rumpus interview with Hodge.) I remain very excited to see what the playwrights of my generation do--including parts 2 and 3 of Lee's trilogy!

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