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<  Announcements  ~  Mel Gordon's ABU GHRAIB Joins the BLOOD BUCKET BALLYHOO Bill

Russell Blackwood
Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2005 11:48 am Reply with quote
Moderator Joined: 18 Sep 2003 Posts: 125
Thrillpeddlers is pleased to announce that starting tonight (July 2) a new Grand Guignol play written and directed by Mel Gordon will join the BLOOD BUCKET BALLYHOO bill.

Here's a note from Mel about ABU GHRAIB:

The detention and interrogation of foreign detainees inside American military prisons has been something of a Broadway standard since the Spanish-American War. For most playwrights, it was an exercise in unveiling the ingenuity of the American character (through the actions of the interrogator) and the perfidy of our wartime enemies. The current conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq has produced a series of counter-patriotic British and Off-Broadway vehicles, which question the very justification and techniques of the incarceration of military prisoners.

Thrillpeddlers? Abu Ghraib is the first one-act that explores the front-age subject through the comic/horrific lenses of the Theatre du Grand Guignol. In a sense, it is not a predictable political diatribe but a short display of how two opposing cultures treat captives under their control. Through fact-based dramatization and documentary footage, it reveals the ?twisted human heart? in the shocking and traditional methods of the Parisian Grand Guignol.

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Hob
Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 12:14 am Reply with quote
New Member Joined: 04 Jul 2005 Posts: 1
July 2 was my first encounter with Thrillpeddlers. I was delighted to see how wholeheartedly the company engaged their material and most of it worked really well for me. I wish I could say the same for Abu Ghraib, but...

That was one of the worst, most painful pieces of theater I've ever seen. Not bad in a funny way, not painful in a challenging way; it just made me sorry for everyone involved. After reading Mel Gordon's statement about the play, I think I understand what he was trying to do (and I'm trying very hard to see his notion of "how two opposing cultures treat captives" as somewhat oversimplified, rather than a grotesque right-wing canard), but I don't think he's a skilled enough dramatist to do it, and I don't think the theoretical thrill of doing it outweighs the callous and flippant aspect: there are real human lives being consumed right now by the horrors he's playing with. His academic explanation of the piece's antecedents brings up ideas that are left totally undeveloped; instead we're left with a lazy exercise in ?pater les bourgeois, too lazy even to stage a murder of its own. (Moral considerations aside, Gordon must be very tone-deaf as a director not to realize that the Nick Berg death video is a very bad piece of horror theater: poorly paced, confusing, anti-immersive with its unsynced sound, and unidentifiable to anyone who hadn't already seen it on the Internet.)

I think it is possible for someone to be a good theorist and nonfiction writer (I haven't read his book but I'm willing to believe this of him) and an extremely bad dramatist and director. This is the kind of theater that happens when someone pays much more attention to what his piece is supposed to do than to what it does do. I'm very glad that that was not true of the rest of Blood Bucket Ballyhoo.

I'm sorry to make my first post on this forum so negative, but I figured you were inviting comments and I felt very strongly about this.
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Daniel Zilber
Posted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 6:56 pm Reply with quote
Site Admin Joined: 16 Sep 2003 Posts: 35 Location: Alameda, CA
I think it is important to note that the play ABU GHRAIB has been removed from the line-up of "Blood Bucket Ballyhoo" after only 4 performances.

I haven't been involved in the Thrillpeddlers' stage shows for a couple of years now, so I'm not sure of the circumstances surrounding its removal. However, I would like to thank Hob and everyone else who voiced an opinion about the performance. I would especially like to thank Mr. Blackwood for ultimately making the "right" choice about the line separating stage terror and real terror.

Now let's all get back to gouging eyeballs...
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New Member Joined: 14 May 2013 Posts: 3
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