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Actors and Activists: Performance, Politics, and Exchange by David A. Schlossman

By David A. Schlossman

This scholarly paintings seems to be on the factor of politics and function in the United States this day with specific recognition paid to performances produced through activists, the NEA 4, and "Miss Saigon".

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United States did more than establish an outsider actor's right to wear authentic military garb in political actions; it also broadened the rights of the institutional theatre. ' In essence, a political activist's adoption of the status of actor not only led to the overturn of his conviction but also changed the laws governing the institutional theatre. But was this an important case that has had demonstrable consequences for the institutional theatre world? While not a landmark case, Schacht v.

Doesn't overt political performance privilege its "message" over aesthetic "quality"? Aren't overtly political performances so topical that they fail to withstand the test of time? '' One may respond to this host of interrogatives in a variety of ways. First, one responds with a question of one's own, asking if the problems are presented in a sincere spirit of inquiry, or as a rhetorical dismissal of the very possibility of a vibrant and valid interaction between politics and art. Second, one can offer empirical demonstrations and explanations, such as the Schacht case discussed at the beginning of this chapter, showing that performances can affect change and that politics and performance inevitably intertwine, often symbiotically.

That Copeland's argument appeared in American Theatre, a widely circulated periodical catering to both practitioners and scholars, indicates that when the cases examined in this study occurred, questions asking whether art and politics could-and should-be separate played to a large audience. Perennial questions regarding performance and politics have inspired vibrant answers from scholars supporting their connection, and these answers have broadened our understanding. Also, questions of efficacy, relevance, endurance that tend towards the abstract (or even absurd) when asked of overtly political performance as a whole remain relevant when applied to specific works.

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