The Show Must Go On.
September 20, 2001 9:43 AM   Subscribe

The Show Must Go On. Is it appropriate for Broadway shows to be up and running again? True, the Mayor prescribed it as a way to show how unaffected we are by terrorism, yet I couldn't imagine sitting in the audience at The Producers, laughing at "Springtime for Hitler," mocking the foolishness of that regime of hatred when the product of another regime of hatred lays smouldering just a few miles to the south.
posted by adrober (16 comments total)
Here's the thing, adrober. I don't like YOU to prevent ME from finding distraction because it makes YOU uncomfortable that SOMEBODY ELSE is doing things which YOU don't like.

If it would make you uncomfortable, don't go. For myself, I've had nights where I wallow in the wall-to-wall coverage, but other nights where I want to cut it off entirely and get distracted. I don't know when those nights are ahead of time.

And to answer your question, yes. I most definitely would want to mock the foolishness of a régime of hatred, especially now. It's how we survive horror. To steal a line from Will Durst recently, think of the Current Situation as a big bean-bag chair that we have to carry around with us. It's not unburdensome but it is awkward at times. Humor ... humor's just a handle we put on the bean bag.
posted by dhartung at 9:59 AM on September 20, 2001

Terrorism, is by definition an attempt to scare; to inflict psychological damage well beyond the
actual casulties. To a certian extent, these terrorists are guarranteed to succeed by the nature
of the crime. But at a certian point, we've got to stop the bleeding. We've got to get back to life
as normal. To the extent that we do that, we can cut our losses.
posted by brucec at 10:05 AM on September 20, 2001

Helen Mirren's quote puts it best:
"My mother lived in London during the Blitz, and it always fascinated me: what was it like in London when the bombs were dropping? She told me, "'We carried on, not as if it wasn't happening, but because it was happening.'"

Once I was in a show and the lead actor's father died during the run; he carried on for both himself and for his father. Adrober, you oughtta rent "To Be or Not to Be" for a good look at why we must whistle in the dark.
posted by mimi at 10:06 AM on September 20, 2001

It's a judgement call. I really got into the Mets games the last two days. But it did irk me on Monday when a group of young teenagers were standing near Union Square (NYC) laughing. I resisted yelling at them, which is what I felt like doing.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:10 AM on September 20, 2001

Due to the subject matter, which you note, 'The Producers' may be a bit of an extreme example. Still, some certainly may not be ready yet to deal with much more than their grief. Others, however may be in need of some diversion just to maintain a sense of sanity in the midst of all this. Everyone deals with their grief differently. Personally, while I understood the cessation of sports and understand your point about the appropriateness of trying to entertain at this time, I disagree with it. I just can't stand the idea of those responsible for this atrocity seeing us react in any way that suggests anything other than strength. They want to destroy us and how we live. I won't let them do it. At least not in my little piece of the world.
posted by rutgersgrad00 at 10:11 AM on September 20, 2001

We like to be entertained.

We like having radios in our cars, and TVs in our minivans and SUVs. We like having 2,000 MP3s on our computer, instantly accessible at any time. We like television, we like net porn, we like magazines, we like movies.

Entertainment can serve as an escape - an escape from reality. Given that idea, we really don't like dealing with reality much. Look at the newscasts at this point in time: while there isn't much in the way of real news out there, they're still all broadcasting wall-to-wall coverage of the attacks. Why? For some, I'm certain, it has become a form of entertainment: a way to deal with the situation.

This need to be entertained all the time may or may not go away. But maybe we realized the proper place for entertainment in our society, last week.
posted by hijinx at 10:18 AM on September 20, 2001

This is a subject that I have been struggling with for the past week since I lost a friend in the WTC attack. I'm an actor and all of a sudden everything about my life felt trivial and ridiculous. I've done things (like going to bad movies) to distract myself and then felt guilty for forgetting, if just for a moment, what has happened.

But the reasons I got into acting in the first place still hold. I want to act because I think it's an opportunity to touch people's lives: to entertain them, to move them, to maybe make them look at something in a different way than they did before, to learn from them, and to bring us closer together in the celebration of what it means to be alive. For me the attitude isn't "I'm not going to let them (the terrorists) change my life" because my life HAS been changed in a way that will never be changed back. But, I'm not going to let MYSELF give up on my dreams, and I know that Adam would never want me to.

I still think that art, whether it be a play, music, dance, can bring people closer together.

And ParisParamus, I know what you mean about hearing and seeing people laughing on the street. But at the same time, I'm so glad that there is laughter.
posted by witchstone at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2001

Anything that makes fun of Hitler should never be stopped.
posted by Mark at 10:43 AM on September 20, 2001

Keep in mind, as well, that "Broadway" and theater in general in New York is also a business, a business that employs many many people who basically live hand-to-mouth, job-to-job. What are THEY supposed to do? Not work? Rent is due in 10 days.

I say this as someone who books a nightclub & restaurant in New York, and while our business is physically undamaged, we're pretty much financially (not to mention emotionally) wrecked. Should we just shut down and fire dozens of waiters, bartenders, cooks?
posted by bcwinters at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2001

Apparently, due to the lack of audience, some Broadway shows are closing, and others are staying open only because the cast and crew are agreeing to pay cuts to make up for lost ticket revenue. The people of Broadway are certainly hurting like most Americans (especially New Yorkers) but I think that they've come to the same kind of conclusion as Mayor Giuliani and David Letterman -- if life ceases to move on, the terrorists have won, they have inflicted us with paralysing fear/depression/destruction. We can't allow that. We have to restore ourselves.

We need distractions, outlets and things that can make us feel better, that can help us work through the pain, because for those of us still here, life must go on. It would be even more difficult to marshall ourselves to get through this time (and whatever looms in the near future) if all we could see is bleakness and sorrow.
posted by Dreama at 10:51 AM on September 20, 2001

i'd like to share a letter my friend shannon wrote and sent to a great number of people yesterday:
To all my friends--

I know that each and every one of you has been affected by what happened last week in your own way. I had wanted to send an email out to all of you last week with my thoughts on the situation, but I refrained because I didn't know how well put I could make it and I didn't want to say the wrong thing in such a horrible time in our nation.

Last week, a few days after everything set in, I tried to help out as best I could with the relief effort. Unfortunately, there were so many volunteers that there was little work to be done and I felt like I was in the way. This week, however, I tried to return to somewhat of a normal life, but that is obviously difficult to do when so much is falling apart around you, as I am sure most of you have realized.

As many of you know, theatre is a huge part of my life. It has been for almost my entire existence. This week, I heard that five shows were closing due to the poor business since the WTC attack. Although theatre cannot be compared to the loss of so many innocent lives, it does serve as a family to some people, including myself and so many of my friends. I have always thought of the theatre as a family and I have made so many close friends because of the power of theatre. It hits close to home because it's difficult to see so many people including my aunt and uncle lose their jobs. My uncle's show ("Kiss Me, Kate") IS closing, unfortunately, but my aunt's show ("Les Miserables") still has some hope. They will be taking a pay cut for a few weeks, and a lot of that is because my aunt stood up and said that everyone should ban together and do their part in these trying times. A lot of people didn't want to take the pay cut, but my aunt begged them to and they did.

My aunt's stand today made me want to do something to help theatre to stay alive during this time also. The truth is that I would do any show right now for free, but I understand that people need their salary in order to live. I don't know exactly what we can do, so what I am asking you is simply to go out and see THEATRE. I know that some of you are not in the NYC area or are actually in shows, but urge others you know around here to go to shows. The mayor has said that that is definitely something we can do to help out. I am going to try to research other ways to help in this effort because I can't bear to let Broadway die too and I will keep you up-to-date on what I find out.

I understand why many people would not be attending shows right now, but I truly believe that theatre can help. It brings you to a different place that takes you away from your troubles and everyday life and we need it in our lives. I went to see a show the day that Broadway reopened and it was such an incredible experience. At first, I thought it was a mistake because my mind was somewhere else and I couldn't concentrate... but, eventually, the heartfelt performances on stage made me realize why theatre is so important to me. When everyone sang "God Bless America" at the end of the show together, I realized why I had decided to go to the show in the first place -- to feel united with people who I share a bond with.

There are many articles you can read more about this on, and also check out some shows that you can go see:

Also, I urge you to donate anything you have to any of these charities helping to aid in the WTC relief fund, if you can.
American Red Cross - National Disaster Relief Fund Donation
Salvation Army

Thank you so much for listening -- and I hope that each one of you is doing well, despite the tragic events of the past week.

Love and hope,
Shannon Joslyn
posted by palegirl at 11:04 AM on September 20, 2001

People who work on Broadway need to make a living.
posted by Modem Ovary at 11:31 AM on September 20, 2001

Big Brother 2 continued. WWF continued like two days later. All of the different sports continued. I don't see how we can single out one part of the entertainment industry and act shocked that they are going on with the show.
posted by Quartermass at 11:50 AM on September 20, 2001

I sincerely hope that everyone here does know that "Springtime for Hitler" isn't a satire about the Nazis; it's fundamentally a satire about show business. The play-within-a-play "Springtime for Hitler" is deliberately conceived by the protagonists of the play to be offensive.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:27 PM on September 20, 2001

well, while various tv programmes, music artists, theatres, educational establishments, businesses, governments etc. have considered the appropriateness of proceeding as if the events of 1109 didn't occur, you'll be glad to know the arms merchants didn't feel a twinge.
The arms fair in london continued unabated.
Sorry to bring that up.
dubious humour
I have wondered whether there would be an upsurge in chemicaly induced escapism - maybe that's what's keeping people away from the theatres./dubious humour
oh, to save anyone the bother.
arms fair has concience!
who created the neccessity for mine clearance, in the first place?

i have to agree with witchstone.

another link to the chaser in case anyone missed this.
posted by asok at 1:12 PM on September 20, 2001

Thanks to everyone who replied. I'm sorry if it came across like I was asking EVERYONE to avoid the theater. On the contrary, I was just trying to articulate why it might be hard for me to go to the theater right now. (Well I live in Atlanta, so it's always hard to go to the least good theater :) ) And as someone who's done theater my whole life, I completely acknowledge the escape and insight a good night at the theater can offer, I'm just not sure that I'd be able to get over my "guilt" as witchstone put it.
posted by adrober at 2:42 PM on September 20, 2001

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