Choosing where to submit one’s plays is often a daunting task, but no more so than for the conservative playwright.  Given that 99.9% of the country’s theatre companies–professional or community—lean to the left (let’s be honest: they dive head first into the left), the conservative playwright often has nowhere to turn.  Even companies that call for plays in the most benign sense (“seeking full-length plays about American life in 2019”) most often have a leftwing agenda. I imagine the artistic directors of such companies express shock that a conservative-themed play has been sent to them, let alone that there is such a thing as a conservative-themed play.

Some companies, however, are not so discreet about their agenda.  Countless calls for female-only, LGBT-themed, disenfranchised voice plays speak directly to the conservative playwright: “Don’t you even think about sending us a script!”  The great irony is, of course, that these “marginalized” voices are regularly heard loud and clear in the arts and yet the message they send is that they somehow have trouble being represented.  Another easily debunked theory of the artsy left is that it has the monopoly on being outraged, believing that conservative thinkers are basically satisfied with the status quo and therefore have nothing to protest against.  Given the almost total ownership of the arts by the left, it seems disingenuous to posit that it is the right that upholds the status quo.

Conservative writers see much that is wrong in society and we have every right to push back through our art.  This is sound intellectually, but in practice it’s nearly impossible to find venues for that push back.  A big part of the problem is that the left defines what is objectionable in our culture, what to protest, and by whom; there is no room in their definition for anything that troubles conservatives.  I saw a great example of this recently when reviewing a call for plays by the Articulate Theatre Company of Brooklyn, NY.

The 2019 version of Articulate’s annual “Articulating the Arts” event is entitled “The Art of Protest.” “Raise your fist,” playwrights are told, “if you’re ready to write about protest art!”  Any thought that this call may invite conservative playwrights to submit plays about subjects that cause them to protest is quickly squashed, however, when one reads the directions to enter the contest.  As a preamble, we are told that “[g]iven the atmosphere these days, we thought now would be a good time to address the artist’s role in activism with: [sic] the ART of PROTEST” (Emphasis in original).  One can be sure that the “atmosphere these days” translates “as the Donald Trump presidency, the rise of the white supremacists, the misogynistic leanings of the pro-life crowd, and the antagonisms of the conservatives who somehow force the left to be violent and destructive.”

But wait; there’s more!

Interested playwrights are to draw inspiration from a selection of images that epitomize protest. That is, of course, protest as the left defines it.  Among the choices are

  • “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” by Arin Fishkin.
  • “Nope” by Unknown. The Barack Obama poster replaced with a drawing of Donald Trump.
  • “Hear Our Voice” by Liza Donovan. An official poster of the Women’s March on Washington.
  • “I Sit with Kapernick” by Jeff Rothberg.
  • “#MeToo” by Unknown.
  • “Border Art Palestine/Israel” by Lush.
  • “Occupy the Streets” by Eric Drooker.

What we won’t see is art which protests:

  • Abortion
  • The rising tide of illegal immigration.
  • The shuttering of the free speech of conservatives.
  • Government interference beyond that which is enumerated in the Constitution.
  • Intolerance of religious freedom.
  • The lies told about the Tea Party movement.

What this all boils down to is the notion that only the left is capable of protest and only the left is allowed to.  The inequalities in society as the right sees them are not be given credence and are certainly not stage worthy.  I say the theatre is open to both or to none.  And for the record, theatre has NEVER been a safe space!

To their credit, the Articulate Theatre Company did tell me that scripts from conservatives were welcome (although this is not in their call for plays or submission guidelines). Not that such plays would be selected, mind you, but nevertheless they are allowed to enter.  I guess this is what is meant by “know thy enemy.”


Photo by Tim Green aka atoach