Aug 6, 2007
There's something about a play - seeing the action in person, rather than through or on a screen, can be uniquely moving. And when the play is about a political issue, the intellectual and emotion combination can make a permanent impact for the better on your psyche.
We just got back from David Wiltse's Sedition, premiering this weekend at the Westpost Country Playhouse in Connecticut. Mark Shanahan - known to readers and listeners of Light On Light Through as one of the Four Phils - plays Associate Professor Cassidy, in this powerful play about Wiltse's real grandfather, Andrew Schlag, Professor of German in Nebraska during World War I.
This is a story about the beginning of the erosion of the First Amendment in World War I - an erosion which has attained deluge proportions with the Patriot Act and the FCC's and Congress's attack on broadcasting. Seeing this story in play format, about a time in which there was no television, radio was an infant, and even motion pictures were just a little beyond toddling, was especially appropriate and effective. Like the garb for 1917, we in the 2007 audience became part of that 1917 world, by virtue of sitting in a live audience, the way people did back then.
A problem with the medium of the theater, of course, is that, if you don't live in the area, it's not easy for you to see the play. But if you get a chance to see Sedition - if it by chance gets made into a movie, or turns up on television or YouTube - you'll be glad you saw it, if only through the more remote media of our day.
Meanwhile for the politics of the play, see my review: David Wiltse's "Sedition" Premiers in Westport: Powerful Championship of First Amendment.