The Breaking Light

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Dec 6 10:44:35 MST 2001

Sander Hicks's absurdist comedy "The Breaking Light" takes ideas very
seriously, which is unusual for the narcissistic NYC theater scene. Quoting
Hegel, Mao-tse Tung, the prophet Isaiah, the characters engage with each
other in a Brechtian framework but without the stilted "distancing" effect
(mostly shouted speeches) that goes with that territory.

The top management of a candy corporation has decided to launch a new
product line: shitballs. Their deliberations are peppered with buzzwords
lifted from books off the management shelf at a Barnes and Nobel. They want
to use the latest technology and marketing techniques to market something
that is very primordial. Their gung-ho manner reminded me of the corporate
lawyers on "Angel," the spin-off from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," who
during a corporate board meeting might just start to bare fangs. As bizarre
as these figures are, they don't seem that much more so than the principals
of Enron, the kind of company that was probably in the back of Sanders's mind.

While they go back and forth, another set of characters are introduced. Out
on the open road, two members of the Revolutionary Communist Party pick up
a hitchhiker who is a Christian true-believer. Right off the bat, the three
begin to discuss redemption and the class struggle in terms not that
dissimilar from our discussions here.

One of the RCPer's has a day job as motivational speaker and tends to blend
quotations from Chairman Mao with the kinds of buzzwords the candy company
management is fond of. When the candy moguls decide to recruit a
motivational training consultant to help them with their new product line,
they hire the RCP'er. But only after they have auditioned a couple of
others, who are shot to death after being rejected. One of them is a
donnish looking chap who quotes Baudrillard in an effort to convince them
of the need to market shitballs in postmodernist fashion.

Hicks is too smart and too familiar with Marxist dogma (learned and
rejected personally) to provide any kind of didactic lessons about how to
change the world. All of the characters are struggling with each other and
themselves to reconcile dialectical oppositions, from god and the material
world, to capitalism and revolution. If nothing else, this witty and
outrageous two-act play will get you to think even more about the very
problems that we contend with each day on the Marxism list.

"The Breaking Light" is being shown at the Present Company Theater on
Ludlow Street. For information, go to:

Louis Proyect
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