Written by 1:50 pm Art Is Essential

Art Is Essential vol. 6

Writers on the art that matters to them.

Theater That’s a Bit Too Fun to Exist

Catherine Weingarten

Living in New York City, I was accustomed to jumping on the subway every night to a cool downtown show. I constantly was transported to another world, another writer’s point of view, another time period. Now, as we are all suffering through a pandemic and theater is relegated to the (mostly terrible) virtual world, I keep thinking about the play Hurricane Diane, by Madeleine George, which was a joint production of WP Theater and New York Theater Workshop.

The play is a wild and hilarious adaptation of The Bacchae. It takes place in modern New Jersey and revolves around a Bacchae figure who has come “as a landscaper” to help Jersey housewives figure out their backyard spaces, but really wants to seduce them and convert them to their cult. Yet, the play’s theme with a capital T is climate change and how far away we’ve gotten from nature.

When I saw the play last February, I felt electrocuted in a fun way. It was so loud, funny, and different from a lot of the “issue” plays that wanted me to think an Important thought at every moment. Now, as we all feel like we entered some freaky apocalyptical blockbuster flick, humor is this needed release to make us feel alive and also gives one hope.

I like to write messy, girly, high-energy comedies because they feel truthful while also a lot of fun. But I have this nagging feeling that if I don’t write a serious play about gun control set sadly in a living room, I won’t get produced. Hurricane Diane’s silliness and irreverence gave me hope that there’s room for my voice in the American Theater.

As the pandemic continues and so much of my artistic life is shut down, I’m glad I have those memories of the play while I’m muted as an audience member watching someone fake make-out with a screen.

Catherine Weingarten is a Brooklyn-based playwright, comedy writer, and wedding cake lover.

Hurricane Diane is a play written by Madeleine George. It made it’s off-Broadway debut in 2019 at the New York Theater Workshop. George has received the Whiting Award for Drama. Her play Watson was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

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