PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 21-27: The Unwelcome Mat

ICYMI   PBOL'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Aug. 21-27: The Unwelcome Mat
 
A person visits New York—from Texas, Wyoming, Washington, DC, wherever—chances are they want to take in a Broadway show. That's what you do in the Big Apple, right? And so it is with the hoard of Republican delegates who will soon arrive in town for their party's convention. Some time ago, the GOP bought out the Sunday, Aug. 29, matinees at eight Broadway shows the party brass deemed inoffensive.

Of course, that doesn't mean the actors are happy about having to perform for such an audience. Aside from some moneyed producers, and Post columnist Michael Riedel, the theatre is a solidly liberal community—a community perhaps susceptible to a group called Shut It Down NYC!, which has been reaching out to Broadway casts in an attempt to organize a desertion of Times Square stages in protest of the presence of Republicans in the city and in Broadway auditoriums.

On its website, Shut It Down NYC! States, "We are attempting to connect with Actors' Equity and other unions to try to get their memberships involved. We are also hoping to get a high profile actor to sign on."

Few people expect anything untoward to happen on Sunday. Still, the whispers and rumors were strong enough that, according to sources, producers asked the union Actors' Equity to remind its members of its duty. Thus, on Aug. 26, Equity issued the statement: "Actors' Equity, the national union representing actors and stage managers in the U.S., has advised its members working on Broadway to report to work as usual during the upcoming Republican National Convention in New York City. 'Our members are consummate professionals and will, pursuant to our collective bargaining agreement, honor their obligations to our employers, as well as our audiences,' said Equity executive director Alan Eisenberg. Equity has a long standing policy that the Association does not endorse or take a position on any political candidate or party."

Most probably, the supporters of Dubya will be predictably and comfortably entertained at their matinees. The opponents of Dubya, meanwhile, will be predictably and comfortably entertained at Tony Kushner's most performed-ever-as-yet-unfinished-two-scene-political-play, Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy, which will run nearly the entire length of the convention, Aug. 30-Sept. 1 at the New York Theater Workshop. Assuring attendance is the casting of Holly Hunter as Laura Bush, who is seen in the play reading to dead Iraqi children. She'll play opposite Cynthia Nixon and Lisa Kron.

The free reading will be part of a double bill with Mark Crispin Miller's Patriot Act: A Public Meditation, an "exposé of threats to our American democracy and freedom." The Kushner work was recently read at an Aug. 2 benefit performance with John Cameron Mitchell as the First Lady with Patricia Clarkson and Kristen Johnston also taking part. Well-timed, too, to aggravate the residents of Madison Square Garden, was the Aug. 26 Off-Broadway opening of the London stageshow Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, starring Kathleen Chalfant. The new documentary drama is based on actual testimony of detainees (as well as lawyers and public officials) at the titular Cuban locale who were released from imprisonment in late February. The show was well-received by the New York Times' Ben Brantley, meaning the review received prominent placement on the front page of the widely read Weekend section, the top half of the front page taken up by a huge photograph of the production.

I trust the cast of that show will be performing on Sunday.

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