I had to laugh when I saw this blog. Hannan asks “Is right wing theatre possible”? To be honest, I always thought the theatre was full of right -wingers. Hannan’s query has its roots in this blog by Ed West who doesn’t want to look beyond his own cultural prejudices for salient examples but decides to take a badly aimed swipe at the theatre. When I last checked, Andrew Lloyd Webber was still a member of the Conservative Party. I guess you missed him, Ed. Then there is the West End…do we have to go there? Yes, we do…Cameron MacIntosh still dominates the West End with his crappy musicals. West End musicals ask no questions about society; they steadfastly refuse to engage with philosophy or anything vaguely political – you need to go to a fringe venue for that. One of the marks of dominant cultural production is to say nothing about lived experience but to render it into a series of meaningless representations. This is the definition of entertainment as spectacle.
To describe much of the West End’s plays as ‘left wing’ is a little er, stupid, to be sure. However right wing art tends to celebrate war, death and destruction. To any right winger reading this, they will think of me as ‘unfair’ and ‘unreasonable’ but the Italian Futurists did just that. Most of the Futurists were killed in WWI which is, itself, an irony when you consider that they literally ‘lived’ for war. I believe Ernest Hemingway once observed that right wing poetry was boring. I have read some and I agree with him. The themes in right wing art tend to revolve around nationalism, ‘heroism’, and the right of might. Pretty dull stuff on the whole. There isn’t a grain of lived experience in any of it.
But West’s suggestion for a musical on the life of the very-much-alive Geert Wilders is barking to say the least (I suspect he’s being provocative for effect). Why not wait until the nasty racist is dead? Oh, of course, Wilders is not a ‘racist’ because to make that suggestion is too ‘politically correct’ for many of our right wing friends to stomach. Radio Nederland is in no doubt about Wilder’s racism and even cites the leader of the Dutch opposition.
I get the sneaking suspicion that Hannan and West are peddling the same myths about art that their US counterparts have done with the media. Here in the UK, Hannan cannot claim that the media is controlled by a ‘liberal elite’ when much of the media is in the hands of the right. Instead he has selected theatre as an example of ‘lefty bias’.
Face it, right wing art is boring and unchallenging and to claim that it is otherwise is simply delusional.