Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gay Soaps as Theater of the Absurd


“What of this theater? Is it, as it
has been accused of being, obscure
sordid, destructive, antitheater, 
perverse, and absurd (in the sense
of foolish?”—Edward Albee, “Which
Theater Is The Absurd One?” 

Are Gay Soaps like the Theater of the Absurd?

Is the popular soap opera “Real Housewives” like Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape,” Jean Genet’s “The Balcony” and Eugene Ionesco’s “Rhinocerous”?

Are the works of Beckett, Ionesco and Genet any more absurd than the various episodes of the modern soap opera “Real Housewives”?

In her “The Theater of the Absurd” summing up the absurdist movement, Miss Esslin writes:

“Ultimately, the Theater of the Absurd does not reflect despair or a return to dark irrational forces”

“It expresses modern man’s endeavor to come to terms with the world in which he lives”

“It attempts to make him face up to the human condition as it really is, free from illusions”

“To face reality in all its senselessness”

“To accept it freely, without fear, with out illusions”

“To laugh at it”

Quite a tres uppity list for any Theater, my dears. But can we possibly say in all seriousness that Soap Operas like “Real Housewives” are absurdist theater?

Enter William Cliff and his drag version of “Baby Jane?” (2009)—based on the original Grande Dame Guignol campy thriller “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” (1962).

The Drag version tends to portray Bette Davis even more campy and absurd than she is already in the original film. Mathew Martin, a tres talented drag star, plays the shrewish aging Jane Hudson. With J. Conrad Frank, another exquisite drag artiste, playing cripple wheelchair bound poor Blanche Hudson.

The same could be done with the Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor bitchy campy classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966). Drag star Mathew Martin playing the bitchy queen bee Martha and equally campy J. Conrad Frank playing poor insipid disillusioned mawkish George the poor husband.

You know, something along the lines of absurdist theater—like a trashy obscene version entitled “What Ever Happened to Vagina Woolf?” 

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