Feminists face off against Norman Mailer in the Wooster Group's reenactment of the notorious '71 Town Hall debate
There is a dick on stage and someone has given him a microphone. He is flanked by a small battalion of feminists. He taunts and condescends through a tight half-smile. The dick is delighted to be here—he’s even hired a camera crew to document the event. The feminists regard him with a mixture of amused detachment and outrage—they resent his vaunted position in the culture and his repeated efforts to prove their intellectual (and biologic) inferiority. They admonish him as they would a bad child and he retaliates by calling them “cunty.” The dick, after all, belongs to that special breed of chest-beating chauvinists with whom we've recently become reacquainted—though, in this dick’s case, a formidable intellect speciously lends credibility to his misogyny. Outside the venue, scores of women protest. Inside, the audience brims with a volatile mix of supporters and detractors. There is little room for the undecided.
This is Town Hall, Manhattan, April 30, 1971—the scene of the gender donnybrook “A Dialogue on Women’s Liberation,” a Theater for Ideas debate, which pitted provocateur-pugilist Norman Mailer against an auditorium of feminist thinkers and writers. This is also the Performing Garage, Manhattan, February 4, 2017—the site of the Wooster Group’s newest performance, The Town Hall Affair, a daring and timely reenactment of the night a group of women drove old Mailer down. Under the direction of Elizabeth LeCompte, the Wooster actors awaken the sleeping giants of second-wave feminism and offer up their arguments for renewed consideration.[ Read More ]