Monday night at New York University’s Skirball Center, The Culture Project presented its sold out “Blueprint for Accountability: Rule of Law: Torture, Democracy, Privatization, Habeas Corpus,” another of their decade-and-a-half long string of attempts to mix social activism with artistic production.
As Brecht and Orwell and Abbie Hoffman showed, when art and politics are united in an expansive, aesthetically compounding way, the end result can catapult the audience not just intellectually, but emotionally, cellularly toward action. The tradition lives on in the plays of Tony Kushner and Caryl Churchill, in Bolano and Coetzee’s best work. The Culture Project itself made a searing statement with their production of “The Exonerated.” That piece consisted of actors reciting — embodying — the oral testimony of wrongly convicted death row inmates to build a case against the death penalty in America. It was stark and direct and wrenching.
Blueprint for Accountability wasn’t nearly so unified. It combined panel discussions with film clips and dramatic readings in an attempt to lay out the historical context of the past 10 years of U.S. foreign policy and make the case for pressing the Obama administration to take decisive action on a number of fronts. It promised to give the audience direction, clarity, in the fight.