Politics and drama are disparaged, especially by those who feel the sting of the tragedies presented.
Sometimes, even if the message is on point, the admixture has an oddly inappropriate tastelessness.
Nonetheless, as I have often said, it is the role of art to clarify matters and comment on our foibles and the errors of our ways.
We are often led astray on the roads of life, so we should be grateful to plays, playwrights and the traditions of our theatrical history for helping to put us back on track.
Here is a plot I propose:
Tamburlaine in triplicate or triptych: played alternately by North Korean President Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin and the US President, with Benjamin Netanyahu coming in as a pinch hitter.
In the movie version of the shenanigans surrounding the recent election– the movie from my youth– the big guy is carted away in cuffs. Also, the good people of Montana go to the homes of every single Jewish family that was targeted by Richard Spencer’s crew to make sure they are protected. This is so because in 1950’s America Americans played by the rules, were patriotic and did the right thing.
June 25th addendum: The toddler in big boy pants whose got DC as his playpen may be onto something. He doesn’t care for poor folks (note to those who helped elect him–be careful what you wish for is a real thing). Is there a reality show called Lifestyles of the Poor and Unknown?
There has long been a convention of making the outsider the hero on stage and in film. In theater, we can find the anti-hero in Shakespeare’s Macbeth and his Lady, in Marlowe’s less well- known Tamburlaine. Othello, King Lear, in fact most of the Bard‘s tragedies all center around figures of some ignominy. More to the point here, each is an outlier.
In mathematical terms, they are data points distinct from the rest which may or may not, thanks to robust statistics, affect the outcomes. In dramatic terms, the outlier is the outsider whose infamy determines his fate; this definitely affects the outcomes in the play.
There is an innate attraction to the maverick who lives in society but apart from his.peers.
As it happens, sometimes the notoriety surrounding a protagonist is made up of difference in point of view. Those who benefit from Robin Hood’s assistance see him as an unalloyed hero. Those who suffer from
his philanthropy, consider him a criminal.
Nuances are everything, and they make for excellent dramatic effect. We are on the fence along side Hamlet as he wrestles with treachery and commits murder.
As often as not, it is the theater artists creating the works who are to some extent the outliers in society. Their message is to elevate the conversation and help us see a truer world.
Christopher Marlowe had a way with words. Underappreciated, compared to his contemporary, Shakespeare, whose greatness is undisputed and whose popularity remains unrivalled.
Marlowe’s plots, like Shakespeare’s, drew from history and built on themes both personal and universal. His Tamburlaine the Greatis one example of a tragedy with great umph. It is the ultimate tale of an over-reaching hero.
The Jew of Maltais the lesser-known Marlowe version of The Merchant of Venice, well sort of….. It was certainly an inspiration.
Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe were contemporaries, both great Elizabethan dramatists. In fact, Marlowe was considered the greatest tragedian of his era, but somehow Will has outlasted him. Marlowe’s plays are not revived; there is no annual “Marlowe Festival” nor “Marlowe in the Park” to honor his works. There are also no commemorative postcards from Russia for Marlowe, as there are for William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is known now as The Bard, and Marlowe is an obscure reference.
Can Marlowe’s works ever get the scrutiny they deserve? Can he someday share equal billing with Shakespeare? Is there a “market” for a Marlowe retrospective? Would a production of Marlowe’s works meet with audience approval and critical acclaim?
Marlowe met his untimely death in an as yet unresolved murder while his personal reputation was suspect. He had been called to the Privy Council for alleged blasphemies, so perhaps you might say his professional reputation was on the line when he was stabbed to death at the end of May 1593.