Who will write the play about the “Texas 11?” (or rather 10, as of yesterday evening)
Come on, it’s been a while seen we’ve see a good Lawrence-and-Lee-type play, molding history with the form of the well-made play. This material might lend itself better to a documentary theatre style, so if you want you can get your Moises Kaufman on. But I have a soft spot for bigger, sillier pseudo-histories. The Lawrence and Lee plays let socially liberal audiences celebrate the triumph of science over creationism that remains in classrooms to this day…in select states. And by comparing Thoreau’s stand against the Mexican-American War to the Vietnam conflict with 1970’s The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail, the playwrights helped end the war…uh, slowly, over the course of three years…. Now that’s Justice with a capital “J”!
And it’s not just Democrats vs. Republicans: there are more social implications to explore. Why not play the race card? You’ve got racist southern boys and noble negroes to work with; why not use them? Normally I’d say something about how it isn’t right to pull a Mississippi Burning and reinforce East Coast Elite stereotypes about the racist South, but hey, in this case it’s true! At the highest levels of state government!
But what the Texas Democratic Standoff really lends itself to is Reginald Rose’s best-known play. Ladies and gentlemen, you have eleven angry men! They are trapped together, fighting for the truth, and they are struggling to keep rank. This is enough material to keep high schools and community theatres in rep for decades! It’s just—can we change some of these stage congressmen to congresswomen? And though nine of the Texas 11 are black and Latino, can we lighten their ethnicities for our productions in East Norwalk, Ohio and Greenwich, Connecticut?
Of course you can! Just who won Wilson vs. Brustein anyway? Non-traditional casting will start for this play before the traditions start for this play.
And start they will. While this gerrymanding may right now seem to be a frightening form of injustice from on high, it won’t be long before it becomes a play of the people, honoring the only eleven principled men left in the Lone Star State. All someone has to do is write it.
And it sure won’t be me.