Sunday, July 30, 2017

"Indecent"

Friday July 28

After an hour of more fiddling with the internet box, to no avail, I went out to the park, the pressure cooker release valve for this madhouse city, 843 acres, 500,000 trees, and I appreciate every one of them.

A slow walk across to the west side, where I feel more at home than on the east – funkier, more artistic, more young people and Jews. On Columbus Avenue: a storefront called Animal General advertises Bereavement Counselling and Puppy Playgroup. A few stores down is Upper Breast Side, a store selling nursing supplies. Yuppyland. Someone had left books on a wall, and I picked up “The Wind in the Willows.” Perfect reading for a stifling Manhattan day.
 Seen in a store window. Every writer's dream!
 Another shop - selling clothes by Vermeer.
A newstand featuring two of my fave men - Macca - three whole magazines! - and Justin, an article wondering why he can't be President. If only. 

To Harry’s, a vast shoestore which carries lots of large sizes for the big-footed woman. A sale! But the shoes on sale in my size were execrable, the only word for them, and once I saw the sale prices, no way would I buy a pair at regular price. So, onward, the bus down Broadway to Lincoln Centre’s new TKTS booth. Heaven, despite the long lineup, not to have to battle Times Square to get a reduced price for seats. I got tickets to both shows I want to see: Indecent tonight, and Natasha, Pierre, and The Great Comet of 1812 tomorrow matinee. I’ve already got a Michael Moore ticket for tomorrow night. The rest of my weekend is planned.

A bite to eat in a cool atrium, then a walk back across the park to the east side and the long slog home, stopping at Citarella to buy supper. Very hot and muggy and my feet are swollen. Here, I am without internet. Withdrawal. I may start to shake. Except of course for my phone.

11 p.m. Saw Indecent tonight, one of the main reasons I came to New York, about the play God of Vengeance by Yiddish playwright Sholem Asch that shocked the world when it was first produced in 1907 by its cast of prostitutes and a tender lesbian love scene. I wrote about it in my book on the Jewish Shakespeare. Paula Vogel, to whom I’ve sent the book, has written a drama about the difficult history of the play – including an arrest on obscenity charges in New York in the Twenties - about the tortured Mr. Asch, and eventually about the destruction of the entire Yiddish world. The director Rebecca Taichman has created a musical landscape with whirling actors, musicians onstage dancing among them, and powerful images, especially dust pouring out of the sleeves of her actors, first as a symbol, I think, of dusting off the play and history, and later, as a reference to the ashes of the Holocaust. People have asked why I didn’t write a play about my great-grandfather, so I was interested to see what Ms. Vogel had done with this story. It’s terrific.

An underlying message of the play is about intolerance – toward artists, Jews, homosexuals, and especially immigrants. What a timely moment. I keep seeing headlines as I walk – the latest, Trump telling police not to “be nice” to suspects. The whole scene grows more appalling day by day, and people here, it seems to me, are fiddling while Rome burns - shopping and eating and jabbering while the planet disintegrates. The extremes of poverty and wealth on the streets is more egregious than ever. The ride home on the subway tonight – sheer exhaustion in the air. The whole system is so deeply wrong, it hurts to walk through it.

I’m sorry to sound crabby - and hypocritical, in fact, as I swan about to shoe shops and shows complaining of social injustice. But I am profoundly uncomfortable here. Grateful to be seeing brilliant theatre in a land with great artists, grateful to be staying in the comfortable home of my cousin, grateful I only have one more day before I go home.

3 comments:

  1. It looks good specially the park this, it looks such a nice and calm place, I am glad that you shared your experience with us. Thank you for this blog

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