Over the next week, I will share my top ten cultural hits of April 2019 in no particular order.
1. NYT T-Mag April 14, 2019
“A microphone stands amid a landfall, detritus from the years before turtle-bloodied plastic straws, charred tiki torches, silicone breasts, lips, hips, and buttocks. All that hasn’t decomposed. Our unrotting present in this near future.
It is 2024. Midnight. June 15.”
“A high - rise tower by the ocean, 2024.
MA’AM sits very still in a Getsuen diamond armchair in a room in a city far away. .The floor is covered with dying insects.”
“Three postmillennials assemble during their break from their work making crap that nobody wants or needs, singing.”
“Jeremy stands in a pool of light. Speaking directly to us. He is neurotic and hungry - in other words: Jewish.”
“A group of fairly attractive people sit around a table. . .”
These are just a few of the setting descriptions from a collection of 15 short plays published in the April 14, 2019 T-Mag (The New York Times Style Magazine). The playwrights were asked to write plays set five years out in 2024.
In her introduction to the plays, Hanya Yanagihara writes:
“. . . there is a crucial difference between journalism and literature: If the former concerns itself with What is, the latter is interested in What if. That instinct - the artistic compulsion to stretch the possibilities of the moment to their most outlandish, terrifying extremes - can often illuminate the current era. Literature, be it in the form of a play or poem or novel, is often at its most captivating when it is at its most exaggerated when it articulates our collective fears or concerns.”
Yanagihara’s words could easily describe the plays of the mad futurist Samuel Beckett and yet she is introducing us to the work of playwrights who were, for the most part, born well after Beckett died. There is a common thread to all of the writing in these plays. They forcefully address (We must no longer say “man’s inhumanity to man” as it disregards the war tactic of abusing women’s bodies.) humans’ inhumanity to humans as a result of the choices of the destructive and inhumane world leaders.
These important playwrights’ deforested, tragic - comedic vision of human existence is laid alongside black and blue comedy with entertaining results.
You can see 6 of the plays read here:
2. Fosse/Verdon on FX Network. This series and the performances get better with every episode. Here’s my blog post on the show: https://www.pattiemiles.com/blog/verdon-fosse
3. Milkman by Anna Burns
Anna Burns went from ill - health and dependency on food banks while she wrote Milkman to winning the Booker Prize in 2018. This is her third novel. Many American reviewers found the book too long and rambly. I thought it was mesmerizing.
This excellent read is set in an unnamed city in Ireland during the Troubles. Anna Burns tells her story through the fraught mind of a young woman. “ Milkman is an experimental novel in which the narrator is an unnamed 18-year-old girl known as “middle sister”, who is being stalked by a much older paramilitary figure, Milkman” -- Wikipedia
“People always said you'd better be careful. Though how, when things are out of your hands, when things were never really in your hands, when things are stacked against you, does a person - the little person down here on the earth - be that?”
In a time when religion, reading a book while walking, or being out after sunset can be interpreted as deviant, Milkman shows powerlessness feeding inaction with startling repercussions.
Director: I am currently choosing the 2020 season for SHOW PEOPLE. Sign - up for the newsletter here: https://www.pattiemiles.com/show-people
Actor: A Nabokov monologue I am developing has garnered some interest from The International Vladimir Nabokov Society.
Playwright: I am currently creating a full length play by putting eight of the plays I wrote for 14/48 into the container of a 9th play written for 14/48. It is titled SEA>PDX>SFO>LAX.