Today’s New York Times contains an excellent essay by the playwright David Mamet called “We Can’t Stop Talking About Race in America.” The essay is part of The Times’ super-sized Arts & Leisure section cataloging all the new cultural events coming this fall and winter. Mamet has a new play coming out this fall called Race.
If you know Mamet, you know that he provides some fearless insights on this subject. Let me offer a few choice quotes to get you to go read the piece:
“Race, like sex, is a subject on which it is near impossible to tell the truth.”
“Most contemporary debate on race is nothing but sanctimony…”
“The question of the poor drama is ‘What is the truth?’ but of the better drama, and particularly of tragedy, ‘What are the lies?'”
In light of all the moments we’ve had this year: with Barrack Obama’s inauguration; the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, PA; the Gates-Crowley face off; madding crowds wielding pictures of our president sporting a little Hitler moustache; and the troubling denial of parole for Leonard Peltier — a man many feel embodies America’s need to pretend its indigenous people do not exist –Mamet’s essay says a lot. What is the truth? What are the lies?
Hopefully the answers to these questions will become clear soon. If not in Mamet’s new play, then maybe in the drama and tragedy of the life we live moving into our future. We’ve got a little more than seven years to go…if you know what I mean.
Photo: David Shankbone, from http://www.broadway.tv