To visit Ashland, Oregon, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is to visit a Petit Trianon of liberalism. It is to experience a perfect stage-set of liberal verities.
Why, the very Playbill to the festival season outlines the liberal program. The Mission Statement talks of "cultural richness" and "our collective humanity." The Values Statement speaks of "Excellence" "Inclusion" "Learning" and "Environmental Responsibility," as well and a "safe and supportive workplace" for the theater company.
As you can imagine, on this stage set there are members of traditionally marginalized groups carefully included in the blocking, even to the extent of a spot of sign language here and there. Everyone included except for you-know-who.
And to top it all, here's Artistic Director Bill Rauch:
Whatever one's political perspective, it's hard to deny that there is new optimism in our country, even in these hard times.
You gotta love these liberals. In fairness, the Playbill must have been written in the fevered transition between a six percent victory and a triumphant inauguration. But you know that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival would never have celebrated the first 100 days of Ronald Reagan in such florid terms.
But to be fair (again, because we are conservatives) the festival recognizes that it has a problem. Right now it's in the middle of an American Revolutions project to commission a cycle of history plays. But project director Alison Carey has a problem.
"You cannot tell the story of the United States without including the story of conservative political and social movements," said Alison Carey [to] the New York Times. Unfortunately so far she’s come up blank: "I've never had a play come to me that I could say had a conservative perspective," said Ms. Carey at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, adding that if anyone hears of a playwright with one in hand, "send him my way."
Yes, it must be a problem. The liberal moral/cultural community has just spent half a century telling itself that conservatives have nothing to say. So, not surprisingly, no conservative has imagined that anything they say would be welcome in the uber-liberal culture of the theater.
This sort of thing cuts both ways. If liberals have so "excluded" the possibility of a conservative history play at the turn of the 21st century then it also means that they have no clue about how the conservative temperament works and how it could rise and thrive, perhaps beginning in thousands of chaotic Tea Parties and ending up bringing on some new American Revolution.
The danger of a Petit Trianon of liberalism is that one say they will be happily repeating liberal-speak in the liberal court of the ancien regime as one liberal bastion after another disappears in a confusion of smoke and rubble.
And then comes the day when a minor mob storms the empty shell of the Bastille.
Or then comes the day when King Henry VIII has no need of the conniving political skills of his Cardinal Wolsey, and the cardinal is left muttering farewell, a long farewell to all his greatness.