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The Balcony Paperback – March 28, 2015
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Sartre referred to Genet as the prototype of the existential man, whose past as a convicted felon and his subsequent literary career illustrated a life where personal choice drove the moral distinctions. I have read an been absorbed by a number of Genet's works, my favorites being _Our Lady of the Flowers_ and _The Maids_. While I don't believe that _The Balcony_ is up to the level of either of those works, it's an important piece of the history of the theater of the absurd.
Worth reading. Perhaps now more than ever in a world where actors regularly transition to politics.
The opening scenes with ordinary men pretending to be The Bishop, The Judge, and The General in the brothel are very interesting and set up high expectations. But this potential was not fulfilled. I think that it was fine that the play remained ambiguous about the outside revolution and the play acting with the prostitutes. But by the end of the play, the speeches aren't very informative and didn't contribute to the plot or to understanding the characters. This is one case where the lack of popularity for the play is reflected by the ineffective ending. Like "The Maids," it starts out jokey and turns absurd, but without a stronger more tragic and involving ending it just doesn't seem as good.
"There was a time when I would read anything the playwright Jean Genet wrote, especially his plays. The reason? Well, for one thing, the political thing that has been the core of my existence since I was a kid, his relationship to the Black Panthers when they were being systematically lionized by the international white left as the "real" revolutionaries and systematically liquidated by the American state police apparatus that was hell-bend on putting every young black man with a black beret behind bars, or better, as with Fred Hampton, Mark Clark and long list of others, dead. Genet, as his somewhat autobiographical "Our Lady Of The Flowers" details came from deep within a white, French version of that same lumpen "street" milieu from which the Panthers were recruiting. Thus, kindred spirits.
That kindred "street" smart relationship, of course, was like catnip for a kid like me who came from that same societal intersection in America, the place where the white lumpen thug elements meet the working poor. I knew the American prototype of Jean Genet, up close and personal, except, perhaps, for his own well-publicized homosexuality and that of others among the dock-side toughs that he hung around with. So I was ready for a literary man who was no stranger to life's seamy side. His play ,"The Maids", was the first one I grabbed (and I believe the first of his plays that I saw performed).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great play about the continuum of illusions and reality and power as a result of positioning hehe
It is especially relevant now when our world "where everything -- you... Read more