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End Of Scene Blog Entries
SATURDAY, DEC 7, 2013
Ken makes a scene about why he wrote LIFE ON PAPER
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[EXCERPTED REVIEW] Broadway World makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
FRIDAY, JUN 7, 2013
[REVIEW] The Houston Press makes a scene about Warrior Class at the Alley Theatre.
SUNDAY, FEB 3, 2013
Ken makes a scene about an upcoming reading at Ensemble Studio Theatre
FRIDAY, FEB 1, 2013
Ken makes a scene about joining Season Two of House Of Cards
SATURDAY, DEC 8, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a letter from Liz Engelman
THURSDAY, DEC 6, 2012
Ken makes a scene about "Red State Blue State" on This American Life
MONDAY, NOV 5, 2012
Ken makes a scene about a stage adaptation of Warrior Class for the BBC.
TUESDAY, OCT 16, 2012
Ken makes a scene about participating in Baltimore Center Stage's MY AMERICA PROJECT, directed by Hal Hartley
SUNDAY, JUL 29, 2012
Errol Louis makes a scene about Warrior Class on NY1's INSIDE CITY HALL
WEDNESDAY, JUL 25, 2012
Head critic for NYTimes makes a scene about Warrior Class on WQXR's Around Broadway.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The Daily News makes a scene about Warrior Class
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: The New York Times makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JUL 24, 2012
REVIEW: Variety makes a scene about Warrior Class.
TUESDAY, JAN 24, 2012
Ken makes a scene about The Montgomery New's Review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, JAN 19, 2012
Ken makes a scene about STAGE Magazine's review of FALLOW at People's Light and Theatre Company.
THURSDAY, DEC 1, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a remarkable piece of writing about the American theatre
TUESDAY, NOV 22, 2011
Ken makes a scene about a character's stage transformation
MONDAY, NOV 21, 2011
Ken makes a scene about WARRIOR CLASS online
TUESDAY, SEP 27, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Asian American Performers Action Committee
MONDAY, SEP 26, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the fast work of SCR's casting department
FRIDAY, SEP 16, 2011
Ken makes a scene about Anne Garcia-Romero's post about LoNyLa
WEDNESDAY, JUL 6, 2011
Ken makes a scene about the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage's $150,000 grant to FALLOW
SUNDAY, JUN 19, 2011
A letter from Kaitlin Hopkins - Head of the Musical Theatre Program at Texas State
TUESDAY, FEB 15, 2011
Ken makes a scene about science plays.
WEDNESDAY, DEC 22, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Intelligence-Slave making the Houston Chronicles Top Theater Shows of 2010 list
TUESDAY, OCT 19, 2010
Ken makes a scene about intra out-group persecution.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about why theater is not a humanity.
WEDNESDAY, OCT 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Athol Fugard's criticism about the failure of modern dramatists
MONDAY, JUL 26, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the diverse audience of Queens Theater in the Park
SUNDAY, JUN 6, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the Jewish Herald-Voice's profile of INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE
WEDNESDAY, JUN 2, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Lee Williams's review of Intelligence-Slave in the Houston Press
TUESDAY, JUN 1, 2010
Ken makes a scene about his Intelligence-Slave interview with culturemap.com
SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2010
Ken makes a scene about Everett Evans's review in the Houston Chronicle
TUESDAY, MAY 25, 2010
Ken makes a scene about sharing a collective spirituality in the theater
SUNDAY, MAY 23, 2010
Ken makes a scene about seeing the bird through the feathers
FRIDAY, MAY 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about tech, letting go of the play and making discoveries in production
MONDAY, MAY 17, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Press
SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about INTELLIGENCE-SLAVE in the Houston Chronicle
THURSDAY, MAY 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene for the Alley Theatre's Mark Bly
WEDNESDAY, APR 21, 2010
Ken makes a scene about being playwright 151 in Adam Szymkowicz's blog.
THURSDAY, APR 8, 2010
Ken makes a scene about changing the name of his play.
THURSDAY, MAR 18, 2010
Ken makes a scene about pundits and why Tom Hanks is "injecting" racism into World War II.
TUESDAY, MAR 16, 2010
Ken makes a scene about writing "winning" dialogue.
MONDAY, MAR 15, 2010
Ken makes a scene about agents and the ecology of show business.
SATURDAY, MAR 13, 2010
Ken makes a scene about the beauty of the theater actor
THURSDAY, DEC 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about non-English language productions
TUESDAY, NOV 17, 2009
Ken makes a scene about reviewing business books for theater artists
WEDNESDAY, NOV 4, 2009
Ken makes a scene about THE BIG REWRITE!
TUESDAY, OCT 27, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the discovery of an algorithm for happiness (7ZJJBYD9U6PX)
THURSDAY, OCT 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Holocaust fiction as a literary genre
TUESDAY, OCT 13, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Asians who don't go to the theater.
MONDAY, OCT 5, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the challenge of bravery in the theater.
MONDAY, SEP 28, 2009
Ken makes a scene about the death of Tragedy and Comedy.
TUESDAY, SEP 22, 2009
Ken makes a scene about Dave Matthews's statement that racism is "everywhere" in America.
WEDNESDAY, SEP 16, 2009
Ken makes a scene about why playwrights need websites.
End of Scene Blog

An era of supposed post-racial tensions ...
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
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Does race matter anymore?

Yesterday, while Jonesing for a bite of some journalistic fast food, I came upon an interesting article on www.cnn.com. (Check it out here) The headline for the article was "U.S. racism 'everywhere,' says Dave Matthews." Now, I like Dave Matthews and I'd like to thank him for providing the soundtrack for most of my college years, but what's interesting to me is that out of an entire interview about Dave's new album, this is the way cnn, "The Nation's News Source" has chosen to highlight the article for it's readership.

"Come on, Ken, it's obvious that cnn is cherry-picking the most controversial segments to draw attention to the interview," you might say, to which I'll retort, "Since when is it incendiary to suggest that there is racism in America?!" Perhaps we'd like to hear Dave Matthews's opinion about gravity as well. If racism and other forms of social oppression are not rampant in contemporary American society, then black people must naturally be dumber than white people and women must be 30% less competent than men who do the same jobs. It should be clear to anyone paying attention that social oppression is one of the most actively pernicious blights upon the American social consciousness; it is a disease that pervades every vein of the American circulatory system. Why is it controversial to acknowledge its existence?

To belabor the point just a little bit further, I'm going to do something that I hope I will never, ever do again in this blog. I'm going to reference one of my reviews. It was a review in the Chicago Sun Times about my play, Po Boy Tango, a play about race relations between black people and Chinese people. Now, before I go on, I'd like to point out that I'm not critiquing the content of the review, I'm simply using it to support the thesis of this blog entry. It's the official position of this blog that critics are entitled to their opinions and weenie dramatists write about these opinions, but, I think it's okay here. Full disclosure, it's a mixed review, and the critic was not a huge fan of my writing. This is all beside the point. The point is, there was one line in the review that blazed out like a comet --

"... in this era of supposed "post-racial" tension, these battles [the ones between the characters in the play] seem tired ..."

Now, there are a number of ways to pick apart this sentence and it's entirely plausible that I've written tired battle scenes. But, the facts are that this was a play written by a Chinese man to describe tensions that he sees between black people and Asian people and a white critic is contending that the arguments seem tired in light of the supposed era of post-racial tension that was ushered in by the ascendency of Barack Obama. Now, that is really interesting.

To me, this phrase and the cnn headline are emblematic of a thread in the American zeitgeist that wants to say, "Why do we have to make this about race?" "Aren't we past racism?" "Can't we find a different playing field to suss out all of these issues?" But, if we're tired of talking about something as huge and important and unresolved as race, what else are we neglecting? Are we working so hard to bolster the image of American egalitarianism that we are offended by the teeth of social critique? What do Americans really expect and want from their theater?

Now, while it is certainly true that we probably need different tools to tackle the old demons that have evolved into new demons (and it's very plausible that this is what the critic meant in her review) I think it can't be denied that more and more, Americans are not looking towards the arts for social discourse. Religion and political punditry are filling this void. The arts are expected to entertain and salve wounds. In short, we artists are fast becoming the purveyors of the opiate of the masses. How do we feel about that?

This brings to mind an interaction that I recently had with some fairly powerful Hollywood insiders. I was out in LA pitching new tv series and I started talking about something that I was pretty keen on. Personally, I happen to be very excited about this particular chapter in the history of humanity. I feel that we are the first generation that is in possession of the technological resources to end poverty and fix a lot of the world's problems and research at Columbia's Earth Institute and other institutions supports this. Further, Obama's unlikely path to the Presidency made me inspired about the new paths that he might open for new leadership.

So, I wanted to pitch a show that was like Friends -- it was a group of attractive, precocious Americans living out their early-20's in New York City, only, the dramatic irony of it would be that we as an audience would know that someday, one of these characters would become President, and each would follow a different path. There would be an openly gay war hero who vowed celibacy. There would be a brilliant engineer whose dream was to create a tool that would help all of humanity and he would give it away for free. There would be an Indian actress who would get a break on Broadway and then parlay her success into becoming a special ambassador to the United Nations with an emphasis on human trafficking, etc. The show would track their journeys and keep you wondering whether you just saw a moment that would propel this character into the presidency or pull him/her away from it. I thought it was very cool.

The response I got was, "This is very interesting, but the market research does not suggest that our audiences are interested in these kinds of stories. The market research suggests that people are not interested in politics. They are not interested in volunteering. They are not interested in making a difference. The market research suggests that the next wave of young people are lacking industriousness. Coddled by parents who have insisted that their children are special, the next wave of young Americans can't hold down jobs. They can't handle the rigors of working."

Translation: We have entered a period of American idleness that is so profoundly painful that the arts serve a crucial role in anesthetizing the wound. That's all there is room for.

So, there it is. We are an idle nation that is too tired of itself to inspire itself. We have gone through an incredible financial collapse and an on-going, horrific war, all spurred by our addiction to gasoline, but, as Thomas Friedman points out in a recent NY Times editorial, not a signal major solar panel manufacturer is setting up shop in the United States. They are going to Germany and China. The answers to the problems of the future are in front of us and we are not celebrating them and leaping to the challenge. There is something very wrong, something very un-American here.

So, artists, oblivion mongers, what can we be doing to better fulfill the mandate of our existence? How can we nourish a world that is so deeply in need of inspiration ... and that's what I think we are all clamoring for. The world is saying "I'm tired of hearing about race and injustice because the message doesn't inspire me to action, it adds to my already debilitating idleness. What's the other way?"

I think I'll be chasing that answer for that question for the rest of my life.

end of scene
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