|Flickr Credit: AJ LEON|
Do you often read plays? What’s more, do you like reading them?
I’ve always thought plays are normal things to read. I had to read some in high school, I’ve read and will read some in college, and I’m interested in finding them on my own. I made a point of picking up a couple of plays by women during my summer reading challenge, and I’d do the same again. I like plays. They’re great to read and even better to see in person.
Is this an unusual opinion to have?
I don’t really know what it is that’s nagging at me. I’m well aware of how people favor novels. Especially among my peers, there aren’t many who would curl up on a rainy day with Shakespeare. They probably don’t search among the recipients of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama when they can’t find anything to read. And, to be fair, I don’t either.
Perhaps my concern is that people are making a big deal out of it. This is a piece of the Harry Potter “canon” (yeah… I’m personally not accepting it, but, you know, whatever), a part of a series that spoke to an entire generation worldwide. And it’s a children’s series. Why is that? Is this the only performance literature to be found that speaks to children and young adults? Is this the only performance literature that’s supposed to speak to children and young adults?
To be fair, I haven’t researched this. I have no statistics. If there is a kidlit movement among the performance literature crowd, I’m not trying to join them. I’m just responding to the things I see and hear on the internet and in my life. And what I’m seeing and hearing is that Cursed Child is something unusual to a lot of people. Maybe that’s not a good thing.
I’m here to ask whether or not you read plays, not to write a dissertation on what plays look like in our decade. Still, I think it’s worth wondering how we define literature. What volumes do we encourage our youth to read so it might make a difference? Who are our diverse playwrights? How do we support them? And do we recognize the connection between diverse playwrights and diverse casting?
It’s fantastic that Hermione and Rose are being portrayed by black actresses in London. I love that, I support that. But also, this is a text written by two white guys, as planned by a white woman. And in the words of Leslie Odom, Jr. (Aaron Burr in Hamilton), “you know what's better than color-blind casting? Roles that are actually written about you. Roles that are actually written about your experience.” Stuff that is written by and for a diverse population.
If we aren’t experiencing plays in the first place, though, it seems like plays about experience might have a harder time of it.