Monday, December 11, 2006

Something Cool Finally Happens at the Public Theater

Finally On-Stage reports this weekend, a Public Theater event happened that did not involve dreary propaganda on behalf of Palestinian terrorism. Václav Havel, former President of the Czech Republic, and playwright and prisoner of conscience before that, was honored with a presentation of the off-Broadway Obie Awards the Communist government of then Czechoslovakia refused to let him accept during the Cold War. Havel had won the drama awards for The Memorandum (1968), The Increased Difficulty of Concentration (1970), and A Private View (1983). Joseph Papp actually smuggled Obie #1 into Czechoslovakia, while the other two remained unclaimed.

The Public Theater has a reputation for foisting propaganda masquerading as theater on its patrons, with recent fare including My Name is Rachel Corrie and Tim Robbins’ universally panned Embedded. I happily give them credit for hosting the tribute to Pres. Havel. While they had him there, they would have learned a great deal if they had asked him his assessment of Cuba’s human rights record or the stakes in the war on terror. Under Havel’s leadership, and continuing under Václav Klaus’ administration, the Czech Republic has been one of Cuba’s staunchest critics in Europe and an ally of America in Iraq. Likely, they missed that opportunity for enlightenment, but at least they must be starting to get the evils of Soviet Communism, more than a decade later. After all, it was clear from the proceedings it was not by his choice that he was unable to claim his Obie in 1968, or 1970, or 1983.