Thursday, July 8, 2010

People's Playwright

Howard Zinn, author of The People's History of the United States and a popular speaker on campuses, including the largest gathering I witnessed at HSU, died in January. But publishing lead-times being what they are, The Bloomsbury Review printed an interview with him in its spring issue. In the interview, Zinn talks about theatre:
"I've always been interested in theatre. I'd always been affected by theatre." One reason might be that the first play he saw was a Federal Theatre production. "I think that suggested to me how important theatre--drama--can be in heightening consciousness of any kind of issue."
Living in New York, Zinn and his wife became dedicated theatregoers, even if all they could afford were the cheap seats. Still, they saw the original Broadway productions of A Streetcar Named Desire and Death of a Salesman. Eventually Zinn tried his hand at writing plays, beginning with one about Emma Goldman, and including Marx in Soho, an attempt to portray Karl Marx "not as a caricature, not as the embodiment of evil, but as a human being with quite extraordinary and very attractive ideas...The idea of the play is to give Marx a chance to say what the difference is between his ideas and what happened in the Soviet Union." Sounds like a play still worth seeing.

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