The Wooster Groups new demonstrate searches the notorious 1971 dialogue between feminists and the American novelist. Almost 50 years on, the polemics they had still characterize our discourse
Its no small-time provocation in todays leftist circles to give a straight lily-white patriarch a microphone. The Wooster Group generate Norman Mailer four.
The Town Hall Affair, the stage and media groups latest production, centres on Town Bloody Hall, a 1979 movie by Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker that documents a notorious 1971 board legislation as A Dialogue on Womens Liberation less moderated than manhandled by Mailer, played here by two performers( Ari Fliakos and Scott Shepherd) with two mics each. This double-sized man-ego shares the stage with four second-wave feminists: the activist and organizer Jacqueline Ceballos; Germaine Greer( Maura Tierney ); Jill Johnston, a radically free-associative columnist for the Village Voice( Kate Valk ); and the New York intellectual Diana Trilling( playing with deadpan archness by Greg Mehrten ).
The Q& A fraction of the occasion at New Yorks Town hall featured broadsides from the likes of Susan Sontag and Betty Friedan. Womens liberation divulges the poor! hollered a protester, as she was escorted out. When a male literary critic had the dances to ask what it was that liberated girl actually craved, Greer told him, flat out, to loosen: Whatever it is theyre ask questions, sugar, its not for you.
But these antics were also statement: Johnston later wrote that shed wondered showing at all( and indeed various dames, including Gloria Steinem, returned Mailer down ), since the panels very existence seemed to allow that womens liberation was an open question , not a social ultimatum. Greer gratified Mailers defy head on: her opening announcement was a 10 -minute vivisection of the illusion of the genius male creator.
It was soon clear that Mailers idea of exchange was more like a prizefight. To be the centre for human rights of any statu was, he sometimes recollected, the real marrow of his bone, wrote Mailer of himself in The Prisoner of Sex, his egomaniacal rejoinder to his feminist detractors, which took up some 50 sheets in Harpers. In 1969, Kate Milletts Sexual Politics had excoriated Mailer at length, among Arthur Miller, DH Lawrence, and other literary alpha males, for his patriarchal descriptions of fornication. In his essay, publicized the March before the April town hall, Mailer redoubles down. Divorced for the fourth duration, he invests 2 week in Maine doing all the housework, then phones his mistress. For Mailer, the battle of the sexes was dialectic , not absolute but it was a battle he relished.