Just a quick thought exercise post for today. Consider this: in the wake of the #MeToo movement, how should performing arts organizations handle content that was created during the age of rampant misogyny and sexism?
Opera is almost certainly the tip of that spear and a recent article in The Economist started asking many of the questions surrounding this premise. While that post approaches the issue mainly from whether parents should take children to these works (spoiler: they should), it does open the door for a broader discussion about whether performing arts orgs have any responsibilities to address these issues.
If you accept the notion that art and culture have always been a mirror reflecting an image of society, then it makes sense they should incorporate the tenets of a widespread movement pushing back against the prevalence of sexual assault and harassment.
Should we stop performing classics like Carmen because works from that era tend to wallow in the crapulence of cruelty toward female characters while simultaneously glorifying the abuser?
But what about using the opportunity of a performance to acknowledge what were clearly sociological shortcomings from that day and age and work to prevent those character deficiencies from being romanticized (leave that for the music).
It certainly isn’t as though we could all use some fresh program notes!
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment or introduce the topic with colleagues on Facebook or Twitter.