realism

Stephanie Sandberg 2-28-2017

LYNN NOTTAGE wrote her sizzling new play Sweat three years ago on a commission from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. There are moments when artists such as Nottage write at the height of their powers and seem to prophesy about the life of humanity. Certainly Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman or Tony Kushner’s Angels in America accomplished such prophetic feats, and it’s not a stretch to say that Nottage’s Sweat could do the same. Set in the Rust Belt of the United States, with the decline of manufacturing jobs reeling out of control, Sweat may be the timeliest play of this New York theater season, opening March 4 on Broadway, at Studio 54.

Nottage got the idea to write the play after hearing that Reading, Pa., is one of the most impoverished towns in the U.S. We witness on stage the birth of Trump’s America, rife with economic hardship in a community that is doing all it can to hang on to its identity, and losing it at every turn.

This pressing drama is set between the years 2000 and 2008, shifting back and forth in time to reveal just how the devastating economic hardships of the 21st century were taking hold. Most of the scenes are set in the town’s local watering hole, where we witness the local culture, friendships breaking down, and a serious hate crime that lands two of the characters in jail. We follow these two directionless young men who are seeking a life that yields more than just another job. We also follow a trio of female friends who have supported one another through it all on the factory floor and in the intimacies of life.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

In the summer of 430, the great Christian writer and bishop Augustine of Hippo lay dying as barbarians besieged his North African city – basically a mop-up operation in the slow-motion fall of the Roman Empire.

Today, in the fall of the year 2016, a lot of Christians can relate.

Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

Pope Francis has called on Catholics to adopt a “healthy realism” in their approach to their faith, and he decried rigid idealists as heretics.

Speaking during morning Mass on June 9, Francis told congregants at the chapel in the Vatican guesthouse to try their best to seek reconciliation with others rather than pushing strict rules and a “take-it-or-leave-it” style of evangelism.

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