Woke Theater: Going Broke
bless their hearts
Oh dear me, oh dearie me! It looks like the Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago is going broke. Guess what: the director is a woman.
Steppenwolf executive director Brooke Flanagan told The Chicago Tribune that the theater’s subscriber base has cratered from about 10,000 subscribers in pre-pandemic 2019 to about 6,000 today — an approximately 40 percent drop. She also said that single-ticket sales have plummeted 31 percent, even as expenses skyrocketed 19 percent over the same term.
Flanagan stepped into her position in May 2020, touted as the first woman to serve as executive director in the company’s history. Steppenwolf adopted diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) principles about two years ago, saying in a statement: “We are committed to creating an equitable and diverse workforce and environment on and off stage.”
Actually, the theaters are all going woke, and all going broke. For years I used to go to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in Oregon. Then they started doing productions of Julius Caesar as a corporate CEO and all the Roman senators were outfitted in artistical black. And Henry IV Part One with both Harry Percy and Prince Hal played by women — one wearing camo with a tight pair of pants, if you know what I mean.
They also produced a bunch of plays by black playwright August Wilson, which weren’t half bad.
Earth to wokies! If you cast Julius Caesar as a corporate CEO you do not understand what it meant to be a Roman patrician and war leader. If you cast the two most aggressive hombres in English history — fighting to the death in a civil war — as women you do not understand human nature, honey.
Then OSF went and hired a black woman as artistic director. She got fired last May.
Here in Seattle the Seattle Opera has started doing black operas every year. Back in 2020 it was Charlie Parker’s Yardbird. A year later it was Blue about a black kid getting shot by a white police officer; this next year it is Malcolm X. Seattle Opera director is Christina Scheppelmann, a lesbian born in Berlin.
Remember back in the day, when with The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, opera used to make fun of the ruling class? Imagine if the Oregon Shakespeare Festival featured an opera about the stupidity of a woke black lesbian opera director.
Or imagine a play about the little fracas in 2016 at Gibson’s Bakery in Oberlin, Ohio. Why, imagine the notion of a play about
an incident of shoplifting by a Black Oberlin College student at Gibson's Bakery, and subsequent arrest of three Black students for assaulting a staff member. Students, faculty members and employees of Oberlin College protested against the bakery, alleging racism.
There you have drama: black students treated like helpless victims; white liberal faculty and activists acting like privileged ruling-class twits, deplorable white shopowners.
Remember back in the day when our liberal friends prided themselves on their edginess, their willingness to challenge the Zeitgeist? Oh yeah. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible about witch-hunts! Featuring New England Puritans! OMG! The injustice! The Patriarchy! Happy days! Mind you, those were the days, when a Hollywood blonde bombshell like Marilyn Monroe would marry a Jewish playwright!
Play? Hell no. The Gibson’s Bakery drama cries out to become an opera. With fake victims, fake moralizers, and ending with a magnificent court decision. And since Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo is an ample woman, she is perfect to be cast as the dark and menacing contralto contrasting with the rap songs sung by the black criminals.
We live in a time when our ruling class ought to be the target of multiple plays, operas, movies, about its stupidity, its conceit, its injustice, its corruption, its senility, its hypocrisy, its patronizing treatment of blacks, its mad pursuit of a climate crisis, its absurd endorsement of men with a taste for the women’s restroom.
And what do we get? Bupkis.
Well, there is one thing. If all these woke theaters go broke, they should be available for whatever avant-garde theater comes up next.
Oh yeah. Avant-garde theater. Remember that?