Monday, March 25, 2019

Weekly Margin 2019, W12: Hillary and Clinton, What the Constitution Means to Me

3/18/19: Hillary and Clinton
What: Lucas Hnath's new play, about an AU Hillary and Bill, during the New Hampshire 2008 Democratic Primary, when Hillary must consider the option of dropping out of the race to become Barack's running mate.
And? The AU-ness of the play at first just seems like a winking disclaimer as to the speculation involved in what happened behind closed doors eleven years ago (it also lets the actors off the hook from attempting a caricature). However, the frame of it, introduced by Laurie Metcalf before she steps into the play as Hillary, posits that there are infinite universes, and infinite Earths--some very different from our own, some strikingly similar--and thus this Hillary could have a different future than the one we, Greek tragedy-style, know awaits our Earth's Hillary. It makes her plight doubly tragic, in some ways: the idea that somewhere, there's a Hillary who did win, but that somehow she can't manage it. I've never really gotten into any of Hnath's work, but this is the closest I've come to engaging with it. It's an interesting exploration, and makes a fair case for why Hillary's manner can seem so manufactured, inorganic. It's helped by the powerful performances from both Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the title roles. Not a must-see, but an interesting thought experiment.

3/20/19: What the Constitution Means to Me
What: Writer-performer Heidi Schreck recalls a teenage pasttime (slash college fund-raising activity) of traveling around to compete against other teens with speeches about the constitution. She uses this memory (and a re-creation of one such speech) to reckon with her own conflicting feelings about the constitution, whom it protects, and how that reflects on the very real experiences she has witnessed in her life.
And? This one is a must-see, if you can swing it. I know that description makes it sound kind of dry and lecture-y, but I promise it's not that. I loved it. It's stirring, it's smart, it's funny, it's heartbreaking, and it's inspiring. This was my first Heidi Schreck play, and I hope to see many more.

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