By David A. Schlossman
This scholarly paintings appears to be like on the factor of politics and function in the USA this day with specific recognition paid to performances produced through activists, the NEA 4, and "Miss Saigon".
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Additional resources for Actors and Activists: Performance, Politics, and Exchange Among Social Worlds
At the risk of appearing to rationalize a leaden prose style, I argue that cumbersome terminology is necessary if one wishes to avoid semantic quandaries. Another prefatory note on terminology: Contemporary scholars are frequently accused of resorting to jargon when they use terms such as "ideology" and "hegemony," a charge leveled especially by those hostile to attention to politics in scholarship (James Bowman, for example, goes so far as to ridicule as jargon terms including "status quo"). These words do not automatically constitute jargon; rather, they are elements of the English language and relatively straightforward definitions may be found in any college-level dictionary.
Can a play change people's minds, and even if it can, will it move an audience to action? Do political performances preach to the converted? Doesn't the introduction of overt political content render a play "mere" propaganda, and isn't theatre a feeble form of propaganda in the age of broadcast Exchange Between A r t Worlds and Political Worlds 29 communications? Doesn't overt political performance privilege its "message" over aesthetic "quality"? Aren't overtly political performances so topical that they fail to withstand the test of time?
I suggest, however, that the specific relationships between such persons' theatrical careers and political lives have not received adequate study. Moreover, acknowledging these examples doesn't explain how performance institutions participate in a segment of public life that might be called "resistant" politics-political action aimed at challenging government and conventional ideas in order to achieve social change. Exchange Between A r t Worlds and Political Worlds 27 Activism offers a benchmark for an understanding of the interaction of art and society discussed above, since activists are, by definition, people who seek to change the social order.