Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Listen And Make Up Your Own Mind But Look At The Whole Picture Before You Do - An Answer

If you're curious, the original cast from the modified Mercury Theater production of The Cradle Will Rock can be heard at Archive. org.   It's got the status as being the first original cast recording ever issued.   Marc Blitzstein is the pianist and does the intro and commentary. 

The Cradle Will Rock Part 2 

Listening to it, it occurs to me that Blitzstein didn't create real characters he wrote types, pretty stereotypical types with names that indicated his intentions.   Which makes it easier to listen to and follow because there is nothing surprising about any of it, I think it's one of the bigger problems with it. I would call your attention to the tacit vignette with President Prexy, Professor Mamie, Professor Trixie, Professor Scoot, in which Marc Blitzstein made use of anti-gay stereotypes.  Reading his biography and how his social life in the 1930s largely consisted of bragging to his gay friends about his adventures having sex with what they thought of as rough trade, it's revolting.  I believe that it's often cut from productions.  

It's OK and it's very listenable but its effect as art isn't especially important.  And its importance in politics is non-existent.  Thinking about the hypocrisy of John Houseman between 1979 when he was a hired flack for a major investment firm, influencing the general political atmosphere that would soon produce the Reagan presidency  and his pious retelling of the old story of that first performance in 1937 when he was working for the WPA reminded me of something else. When I have the time I'll look up the  arguments over the later career of Orson Welles in which he tried to leave his association with radical politics behind, though radicals even after his death were claiming that effort wasn't really sincere.  But I don't think that's especially revealing if the opera is what you're interested in.  And, honestly, how many of you aren't more interested in that old theater legend more than the music? 

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