The third drama in three years. And it’s the best one so far.
Long ago when I decided which drama I would be watching in Art Festival Hong Kong 2017, around July-August 2016, I read the brochure and I chose this one, over Arthur Miller’s. It’s because I knew at the time this drama was about election in America. I knew at the time it’s about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. So I said, “I’m going to watch it". And I watched it just now.
it’s about Donald Trump?
A Yes and No. No, because that name was not mentioned even once in the whole drama. Yes, because the characters mentioned many names, Clinton, Meg Kelliane ( sorry I don’t know how to spell it), Berns, all those who pulled our thread in the mind to the result on 8 November 2016, and the devil who made that history. Glory or Gory, depending on which way you have come from, and which way you want to go.
No, because the story was more than that. It was, according to the playwright, in troubled and troubling times, …a portrait of the confusion, and an articulation of the ambiguities, doubts and fears of its time. The playwright also explained, in his introduction, the function of the theatre is not to argue, but an effort to create and portray human complexity, which we then share with the audience, at the same time, at the same space; human being to human being.
But yes, because in one of the most unforgettable moments in the story, the playwright did point to a hint of what happened at particular point that has led Americans to where they are today, here and now. In that Act, the son, the remaining son of the Gabriels’ family in Rhinebeck, John (maybe George is the correct one, forgive my shit listening please) recalled a guy who said, “all we’ve been through, can lead back to one single Act, on a small kitchen table, in the Oval Office, with a Pizza, and a felacio…" Everyone in the theatre, even I and my wife who are nearly ignorant of anything in US, knew he was alluding to Bill Clinton and his near impeachment.
I recalled my memory in high school, when, about the same period as the congress debate about his impeachment, our Chinese teacher led a debate/discussion about his affair and aftermath in the class. Her question then was simple, “do you think American people should support the impeachment, or indictment, of the President because of his moral slippery/mistakes/corruption?" I cannot recall much detail about the debate/discussion at the time. But I do recall one point my teacher pointed out, “Americans decided not to support his impeachment, because they valued a President’s competence over his moral integrity. They valued their country more as a representation of economic prowess than they did a holder of moral standard."
Maybe she was right. I don’t know. Because I did not read news much at the time. But now, 20 years later, in hindsight, I think that, if she was right, it explains so much what happens today. It explains why we can’t stop the man, who was videotaped bragging about his ability of grabbing whoever he wants because he is rich and powerful, carrying on his path to brazen grab of zenith power in the White House. If a president who so thoroughly insulted the White House, the Oval, so shamefully abused his power, by having felacio with his intern/interns, even could not be impeached, how could then Americans stop a man who just bragged about grabbing puzzies from striding towards the Oval? If Americans long gave up morality as a criterion to judge the suitability of a man as their president, how could they pick up such a thing again to judge against another moron while not feeling hypocritical? If there already come a consensus among Americans that success over everything else, success excuse their president from everything else, how could they fight a man whose brand has always been success? (a lot of bankruptcies disregarded)
In short, the story spoke my word. Or, more correctly put, the story spoke what I had in mind, just much clearer. Americans deserve what they have right now. One of the main reasons is they forgave something they should not forgive. The one who holds the highest post should at least uphold the strictest and highest moral standard. And they have degraded it from sine qua non to quid pro quo. I don’t want to elaborate along the line as I don’t want to offend anybody; and I am not in a position to meddle with others’ politics. I am Chinese after all.
This story also struck my memory flash, that around November, I heard a radio podcast, The State of the Union Songbook. In which a songwriter interviewed different people from different states in US in 2015. The transcripts of the interviewees were made lyrics of his song, verbatim, in his concert in 2016 before the election. When I heard it hard, I felt the smell of my failure, my doom, my pain, my forbearance, as a social democrat. Now I want to share with you readers.