Playwright Robert Brustein on ‘Exposed’
About two years ago, while putting the finishing touches on my eleventh play, The King of Second Avenue, I found myself sharing an increasing state of dejection about our arts and our society. Greed and corruption had replaced the original ideals of the American democracy, a small fraction of the population was expropriating large amounts of income, and elections were being bought for candidates in order to bring any regulatory government to an absolute standstill.
These developments were meanwhile being given spiritual justification by evangelicals who believed that humanity had been been created 6,000 years ago out of Adam’s rib. I thought immediately of Molière’s Tartuffe, an 18th Century comedy about human stupidity and religious hypocrisy, and decided to write Exposed, a 21st Century comedy about human stupidity and religious hypocrisy. Plus ca Change, Plus C’est Le Meme Chose.
The object was to have some fun with it, and I thought that the character of an evangelist with Presidential ambitions who runs around exposing his privates until he is publicly exposed had comic possibilities. I also thought it might be fun to satirize those power brokers who were spending millions of dollars in order to personally pick their own political candidates, and that is how the character of Seymour Sackeroff came into being.
The writing of the play was a breeze, but my greatest enjoyment was in the rewriting. Every day brought some new juicy revelation about the way the one-percenters were evading taxes and manipulating the economy. And it was fun to examine such other familiars in our society as Sackeroff’s lusty mother, his derisive au pere, his ex-chorus girl wife, and his gay son, desperately trying to make apologies to the ecology.
Readings both at Suffolk’s Modern Theatre and the Vineyard Playhouse demonstrated that many of my perceptions were shared, and so I quickly accepted Kate Snodgrass’ and Jim Petosa’s kind offer to produce Exposed at the Calderwood under the auspices of the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and Boston Center for American Performance. I eagerly look forward to learning what people think of the play in full production.
Don’t miss Robert Brustein’s Exposed, a Boston University New Play Initiative co-produced with Boston Center for American Performance, which opens this week for a limited engagement (Dec. 10-18) at the Boston Center for the Arts’ Wimberly Theatre.