Frank Rich speaks eloquently of "Caroline, or Change"

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Auggie27
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Per earlier threads this week, the Frank Rich take on "Caroline" in tomorrow's (Sunday) paper is particularly thought-provoking, managing to find a fresh spin on the relevance of Kushner's work. Aware that there's a danger in the overselling of the Kushner POV right now, he discusses the writer as a dedicated historian, and notes the ironic timing of ANGELS' debut, the musical's opening, and our own turbulent times.

I think the "Caroline" fans here will find much more meat -- and validation -- in the Rich analysis than the Brantley review. He makes the show sound unmissable.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
FindingNamo
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I heard Kushner speak at a writing conference and he talked about creating big, gooey works that are layered like lasagna. And everything I have seen of his has been incredibly multi-layered, Angels, Slavs!, Homebody/Kabul, and now Caroline. I think it's possible to focus on one or two layers and miss lots, which is why I am startled that a person who posts on this board about there being a lack of quality in theater would seem to be practically oblivious to Kushner's incredible depth and gifts. Unless that's about something else.

I have seen a couple of Kushner's works multiple times, and the beauty of his language and his historical prescience is absolutely breathtaking. This is a man who loves words and big ideas. I look forward to taping and re-watching the HBO Angels in America and finding even more layers in my favorite play of the last 20 years.

Yours for smart theater and the smart people who appreciate it.
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Updated On: 12/6/03 at 03:48 PM
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Corine2
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Yes Namo I agree with you.
I have seen all of his other plays except Slavs.
Angels in America is my favorite but I loved Caroline Or Change.
Updated On: 12/6/03 at 03:52 PM
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I was resigned to missing Caroline as I'm visiting NYC for a week starting Jan. 3rd and it was to be closed. BUT...she is now extended to Jan. 4th and I have my ticket for that day!! Also have my VCR red' to go for Angels. Exciting stuff!
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Namo and others: In addition to the Rich review of CAROLINE, don't miss the big piece in tomorrow's Times' magazine section on the evolution of AIDS literature as a sub-genre and political force, from "Early Frost" and "Normal Heart" and of course Mr. K's work.

It's a highly opinionated article that everyone won't agree on (he's a little harder on perceived playing-it-safe sexual politics of "Philadelphia" than he might've been, and strains to find hetero bias in RENT) ... but a strong POV makes a strong thesis. He places the generally considered AIDS masterwork, "Angels," in an important context.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/6/03 at 05:38 PM
MusicMan
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Auggie, you mustn't forget that ANGELS IN AMERICA was produced when Frank Rich was THE arts critic for the NY Times. Rich legitimized and MADE Kushner by bestowing his benediction---or so he'd like to think. Is it any surprise that in his opportunistic and, oh, so predictable puff piece in the Times he rides the Kushner gravy train by championing COC and the HBO production of ANGELS and makes absurd and ridiculous references to 9/11 and Peter Pan?
Sorry, but the man's an imbecile and merits no validation.
FindingNamo
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First of all, Angels came in on such good word of mouth that the run was transferred from the Public to Broadway before a Rich review ever appeared. Second of all, it's a genius article by somebody who understands how gifted Kushner is. Third of all, his analysis of the show is so much better than yours, MusicMan. It's artistically, politically, historically and culturally informed. He writes of Kushner: "[H]is plays transcend their specific historical time frames because he rides their anxiety at full throttle, resisting the American impulse to invoke closure and wrap things up after they've been cracked open."

I don't know WHERE you see puff in that article, MusicMan. I suspect you're just taking a stance.

Exactly why do you think the references to 9/11 are absurd? When Kabul opened and people heard the line "You don't have to come over here, we're coming to New York" people thought Kushner had inserted that into the text post-9/11. But he hadn't, it was in the script long before that. You might just have to admit that Kushner has a gift for seeing where things are going politically. "History is about to crack open," he said in Millennium Approaches. And it did.
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Updated On: 12/6/03 at 10:53 PM
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##7
Posted: 12/7/03 at 12:14am
r.i.p. marco, my guardian angel.

...global warming can manifest itself as heat, cool, precipitation, storms, drought, wind, or any other phenomenon, much like a shapeshifter. -- jim geraghty

pray to st. jude

i'm a sonic reducer

he was the gimmicky sort

fenchurch=mejusthavingfun=magwildwood=mmousefan=bkcollector=bradmajors=somethingtotalkabout: the fenchurch mpd collective
Updated On: 7/9/04 at 12:14 AM
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I agree with you about Rich's skills, Pap, which is why I have to assume that MM was taking that stance merely to take it. If he actually thinks that was a puff piece, I mean, really believes it... well... he must live in a not so bright room called dumb.
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Auggie27
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I was very aware of the Rich enthusiasm for ANGELS and Kushner, but there was a groundswell of support for ANGELS, coming from many camps. After it was originally done in London, the word of mouth was extraordinary. Rich may have reported on it with more fervor (and far more depth, don't forget), but it was the most anticipated theatrical event of the time, and not just because Frank told us. That wasn't exactly the heydey of the American drama (compared to...uh, now?!) and whatever anyone thought of his politics, his self-indulgent long-windedness, Kushner's was a startling, fresh voice -- one with compassion and intellect -- an opinion shared by many, many people.

It was not like, say, Brantley's gush-a-thon provoking the WT revival with Murphy. That observation perhaps has a certain irony: Rich led the "annointing" of a major new American dramatist, and Brantley's comparable achievement is cheerleading an Encores-styled revival of a 40 year old light musical. I may be straining, but I think that speaks to the times, and to the v. different way power trips are used by Messrs. Rich and Brantley.
"I'm a comedian, but in my spare time, things bother me." Garry Shandling
Updated On: 12/7/03 at 09:04 AM
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Auggie, of course there was great word-of-mouth about AIA before it played here. I am not arguing that or the validity of the play. My point is that, by revisiting the play in his puff piece (as I mean it, an article about a subject, technically not an official review and generally used for publicity purposes, in this case, Rich himself), Rich is reminding everyone that he, as the drama critic at the time, is the one who gave the Times imprimatur and thereby, LEGITIMIZED, the play, as I stated above. As far as Brantley versus Rich is conerned, I don't care for either of them (Brantley, for me, is a personality-free enigma: reading his reviews inevitably sends me back to Kerr's or Kael's or Feingold's writings) but one can't penalize Ben for the shows that he reviews. In fact, Brantley has done his bid to create excitement and interest by going gaga over the likes of I AM MY OWN WIFE, for example, deserving or not.
Updated On: 12/7/03 at 12:44 PM
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magruder
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Actually, Bruce Weber reviewed I Am My Own Wife for the Times.
"Gif me the cobra jool!"
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You beat me to the punch, Magruder. I was going to emend my statement. I'm confusing WIFE with a different play, which at this moment eludes me.
Updated On: 12/7/03 at 12:52 PM
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magruder
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I actually shouldn't have said anything...I realize the point that you were trying to make. Just can't help myself sometimes.
"Gif me the cobra jool!"
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Please, Magruder, PLEASE do not bog MusicMan down with details or facts. Facts, as Ronald Reagan famously said, are stupid things.

Angels did not need Rich to "legitimize it," whatever the frig that means. The tremendous (pre-world wide web) buzz about it from productions on the West Coast and in London was high enough and demand for tickets so strong that they moved it to the Walter Kerr before it even played the Public.

As for the article being a "puff piece," it isn't, it's a feature article. I am sure this is another fact MusicMan does not understand. Rich's job is to discuss ideas as an Op-Ed writer and in this feature he discusses a lot of them. A long article that ties in current world history, the work of Tony Kushner, the state of the Broadway musical today, death and memorials, the 40th Anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, its similarities and differences to 9/11, and the photography of Garry Winogrand could probably be called a puff piece by somebody who spends his days drifting from salon to salon arguing with philosophers before going home and writing nuanced treatises that would give Susan Sontag a run for her money. But given MusicMan's level of discourse, that is probably not he.

And MM, just because you don't get something, doesn't mean it isn't there.
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Updated On: 12/7/03 at 01:07 PM
MusicMan
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FN, first off, if you have an argument with me, please leave other posters out of it. They're free to write as they wish. Otherwise, you might come across as a bully.
Second, I didn't say AIA needed legitimizing (meaning, the Times approval, the holy grail most producers pray for in this town), I'm saying that is how I think Rich perceives his contributions as a critic.
Also, it's not necessary for me to write 'nuanced treatises' about anything. I'm expressing my opinion here just like you and everyone else. If you don't like my "level of discourse," or don't agree with me, by all means, don't read my posts or respond.
As far as "getting it" ia concerned, I know that I have gotten your money in my pocket more than once, whether you know it or not. Thanks for helping me laugh all the way to the bank.
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Holy Christ.

First of all, I'll reference what others put in the public boards all I want. Magruder had a point. And who cares if I "come across as a bully" according to you or Bulldog? I don't. He's a pedantic charlatan (whose latest addition to this thread has vanished) and you're somebody who takes not very well gestated stances. Neither of you is very good at standing up for the assertions you make. That's not my problem.

Second of all, I'm just as free to guess how I think you perceive yourself as you are to imagine what you think Frank Rich imagines about himself. My guess is my guess is more accurate than yours.

Third of all, who gives a crap who you claim to be? I think you're a doofus, and your laughing all the way to the bank line REALLY hit me where it counts. Not.

Fourth of all, I'm sure you've purchased publications I write for, so thanks for putting a little cash in my account, too.
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Updated On: 12/7/03 at 03:23 PM
MusicMan
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So, we're equal. So how about we agree to avoid each other like the plague and stop cluttering the board with this pointless squabble?
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This isn't a pointless squabble. I was talking about how I agreed with Auggie that Rich's article was good. You came in with your usual blather. I argued against it and suddenly that's all overboard.

I'd be interested to hear what other readers have to say about the article. Smart readers, of course, not those with the same anti-intellectual bias as you and Bulldog.

I am so sick of people talking about being passionate for theater and then not being able to stand it when somebody argues passionately for theater.
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Updated On: 12/7/03 at 03:41 PM
MusicMan
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What is overboard, FN, is the vitriolic and personally insulting way you have of expressing an opinion. Attack the argument, not the man. How about a little good sportmanship, eh, or are you incapable of that?
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Oh please. My vitriol is in response to your condescension.
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MusicMan
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I give up. You win. You're the Grand Poo-bah of Intellectuals.
FindingNamo
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I never said that. You're projecting onto me the way you project motivations onto Frank Rich. I know that thinking and articulating thought is not highly valued by you, so I'll take that as the insult you intend it to be.
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MusicMan
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Read your own post, FN. You chastise Bulldog and myself for an "anti-intellectual bias." Which is, to put it mildly, hilarious.
But you're not looking for discourse, FN, you're just itching for conflict and a fight. You're so angry, you're inconsolable. You can't even tell when someone is willing to "shake hands" and agree to disagree. I'm sorry if you think that's condescending but you don't give a person much choice to think otherwise.
Updated On: 12/7/03 at 04:17 PM
FindingNamo
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I'm not angry nor inconsolable. I just know BS when I see it.

"Rich legitimized and MADE Kushner by bestowing his benediction---or so he'd like to think."

Like that.

I'm not looking for a fight. Just for you to back up the ridiculous things you say.
Can you hear me now? Twitter: @NamoInExile
Updated On: 12/7/03 at 04:21 PM