A surprising Oslo

Hmmmm.  Let’s write a three hour play about Middle East peace negotiations that sounded good at the time but have since unwound before our very eyes. For a policy wonk like me that sounds interesting but it is amazingly good theater.  Who knew?

I am admittedly a political junkie who was fascinated at the time with the Oslo accords and heartbroken when Rabin was assassinated, essentially ending it’s promise.  When I heard a play had been written about it, I wondered if a long form journalism piece wouldn’t be more appropriate.  Nope.  This is gripping theater.

Just as the process those clever Norwegians used was to personalize the negotiations instead of trying to guide it, the playwright personalizes the process of the process and we are hooked.  The brilliant idea of Norwegian professor Terje Rod-Larsen (add a slash through the Norwegian “o”) was to place the Israelis and Palestinians alone in a room and to only guide the social time outside the room (where it happens – sorry couldn’t resist).  Instead of trying to dictate and curate the negotiations he guided the social interaction and let the negotiators duke it out alone in whatever manner they wished.  And Terje is played wonderfully by Jefferson Mays on Broadway.  Playwright J.T. Rogers has turned this political negotiation into a very engaging night of theater.  See it.


As always you can find more at http://www.walterthinnes.com and on Twitter @walterthinnes

Just One Political Note

OK, just this once.  This blog was set up to chat about the plays I write and that are produced, the theater I see from time to time, the food I eat out and the food I love to cook.  It was not intended to be political in any way, but the last election was too monumental to ignore, even if it did take me nearly two weeks to straighten out my thoughts.

I am what used to be called a Liberal Republican, though I had to evacuate the party in the 1980’s.  I worked for the John B. Anderson campaign in 1980 and was a big backer of Barack Obama.  In 2016 I cast my vote for Hillary.  I was one of the many who were shocked by the actual result.

Shocked because most pundits saw data and indications that vindicated their opinion of what should be right and what they expected and never questioned or further queried the information and polls to find the truth lurking just below the surface.  I have no animus to Trump but felt he was outrageous enough to be disqualified for the post.

The best summary of the election was presented by Salena Zito of The Atlantic: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”  This sums up how so many of us missed the attraction of Mr. Trump.  We listened to his crazy rants and lines unrepeatable in polite company and wrote him off, whereas a great many Americans took his promises to help their lives seriously and dismissed his crazy lines as over exuberance or sarcasm for effect.  I and others should have taken him seriously.

I also expected women to publicly agree with their husbands and privately fail to pull the lever for a man who clearly treated many women poorly.  I’m still surprised his Access Hollywood tape alone did not repel more women but that is clearly not their highest priority.  We missed that to our peril.

Let’s be honest, this was a full throated rejection of Hillary Clinton.  For whatever reason, her perceived dishonesty, weariness of Clintons in government, or perhaps even the “fake news” (code word for lies) that were spread on social media and the internet.  Regardless she never made a case convincing to much of America as to why she should be selected.  She just pounded on how Trump was unfit, not a compelling reason to choose her except for the history that would be made.

Which brings us to the fact that Hillary won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College.  But those are the rules and she was right to graciously concede for a peaceful transition.  The Electoral College is an outmoded method to balance state’s influences on the process and artificially remove the direct control from the people.  This is unlikely to be changed in my lifetime and politicians wishing to win need to craft their strategy toward the Electoral College.  Bottom line is she failed to attract enough of the Obama coalition who stayed home or voted for Trump.  As for me, I would prefer a parliamentary system that would allow a proliferation of candidates and viewpoints but that is for another blog post that will likely never come.

So, what now?  Unlike many out there I acknowledge that Donald J. Trump is my president, he won the election.  You have the right to protest civilly and peacefully as we still have the right of assembly and free speech.  I fear that the next four years will bring many disasters, big and small, but hold out hope it will not be crippling and may actually do well.  I hope so.  As Obama said, if Trump succeeds, America succeeds.  I only wish the Republicans had held that belief for the last eight years.  My real hope is that the “Manhattan Liberal” Trump was for most of his life comes through and he presses some of that on the Republican Party.  So far the selections for his administration do not bear that out, but I am hopeful.

I hope not to have to bring this blog back to politics.  Here’s hoping that theater and food win out.  Always.

One last note.  The kerfuffle regarding Mike Pence’s visit to Hamilton needs a mention.  First, the speech was part of the bi-annual appeal for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  It was not a sneak attack on the new administration.  I have seen many of these appeals and the actors often speak their mind from the stage as they try to raise money for a very noble cause.  Second, it was an appeal for tolerance and justice, something the Trump/Pence campaign treated shoddily during their appeals.  I hope this was just campaign rhetoric and not policy to come.  Peace.  Please.



*as always you can find more at my website http://www.walterthinnes.com or on Twitter @walterthinnes*