Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

May 29, 2015

Acting for Your Life on LA’s Skid Row

Filed under: Counterpunch,poverty,real estate,theater — louisproyect @ 5:28 pm
Humanizing the Lower Depths

Acting for Your Life on LA’s Skid Row

by LOUIS PROYECT

James McEnteer’s “Acting Like it Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty Department”  is a complex study of an acting company made up mostly of L.A.’s Skid Row residents. With the company serving as the book’s hub, there are spokes radiating outwards to the political and social structures that put this remarkable story into context. If William Blake saw the World in a Grain of Sand, James McEnteer sees the broader problems of gentrification, police state harassment of the poor, CIA complicity with illegal drug trafficking, and the crisis of the health system as topics worthy of dramatizing by those who are its victims, the dwellers of one of the United States’ most infamous “left out” neighborhoods, but a place that despite its sorry appearance was a real estate investor’s dream.

As a New Yorker, I could not help but notice the resonances with my own city where the poor and the homeless confront the same daunting odds. McEnteer mentions in passing that Henrietta Brouwers, the companion and artistic partner of John Malpede, studied under Augusto Boal, the Brazilian director who founded the Theater of the Oppressed. As it turns out, Boal was a permanent fixture of the Brecht Forum in New York until his death. It was there that he operated “a rehearsal theater designed for people who want to learn ways of fighting back against oppression in their daily lives” in the same way that Malpede’s LAPD functioned in Los Angeles. Just six years after Boal’s passing, the Brecht Forum shut down because it could no longer afford to pay the exorbitant rents that the real estate market dictated.

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1 Comment »

  1. Comments are not accepted on your post “A Reply to the Haters”
    https://louisproyect.org/2015/05/28/a-reply-to-the-haters/#respond
    (I can understand why). So, I am posting my comments on that here, because I want your readers to see them. Sorry about being formally off-topic.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly.” — Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

    Letter to Morris Raphael Cohen, professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position (19 March 1940)

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein

    Louis, don’t waste your time sparring with vapid pedants and timorous mediocrities jealously seeking attention. There is too much yet to learn about and experience, and life is too short to waste it on trying to talk mosquitoes out of their very limited programming. Keep writing about what you are learning and know about, and many un-credentialed readers and scholars will be intellectually stimulated, and even enlightened. It is not necessary to agree with someone in order to appreciate their worth, it is only necessary that you yourself not be mediocre.

    Comment by manuelgarciajr — May 29, 2015 @ 7:42 pm


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