It basically boils down to a dissatisfaction with the ending, on both sides. People want a clear thesis, or they want to know what my diagnosis is. On both sides, you hear, like, Clearly, he’s still confused and doesn’t know where he falls.
That for me is sad, because I don’t think that what they’re talking about is art. I think they’re talking about something else that I’m not interested in making.
But I understand the temptation, on both sides. The play is dealing with things that are very timely, and there’s a lot of debate, and so you want to be able to know who wins the debate.
I’m much more interested in what debate does to a person’s body, how it changes the air. How it turns fugues into these aggressive ways of thinking, and makes Teresa unrecognizable to her mentor. I’m so much more interested in all of those elements, rather than just giving people some answers.
At the end of the day, our job as artists is to tell the truth as we see it. If telling the truth is an inherently political act, so be it. Times may change and politics may change, but if we do our best to tell the truth as specifically as possible, time will reveal those truths and reverberate beyond the era in which we created them. We keep revisiting Shakespeare’s Macbeth because ruthless political ambition does not belong to any particular era. We keep listening to Public Enemy because systemic racism continues to rain tragedy on communities of color. We read Orwell’s 1984 and shiver at its diagnosis of doublethink, which we see coming out of the White House at this moment. And we listen to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific, as Lieutenant Cable sings about racism, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.” It’s all art. It’s all political.