Edmund White talks about Terre Haute

EWparis98_storyThere's another brilliant interview with Edmund White over at Gay City News. Michael Erhart asks him about Gore Vidal, Waco and the scandalous secret of virginity.

Here's an extract:

Why did you feel you had to dumb-down Harrison-McVeigh?

For dramatic purposes. I wanted James, the writer, to be able to suddenly wake up and realize that he's kind of fallen in love with somebody who has moronic ideas and cooked up a lot of paranoid fantasies. And Gore, to be fair to him, objected to my characterizing the McVeigh character in that way; he argued that he was more intelligent and held none of those crazy conspiracy theories. He said, why do you ascribe them to him, and I explained that it was just more dramatic. But, it is a very dramatic moment when they clash.

When the play was workshopped at the Sundance Institute Theater Lab in Utah, the British dramaturge George Perrin helped me to shape the finished script. Finally, we decided to go with the dramatic impact, rather than the historical truth, because the truth wouldn't have worked dramatically.

Gore thinks that in real life there were other people involved in the bombing, and that the FBI actually did it, so that they could then pass the anti-terrorist act, in giving Clinton more and more power. But, I don't think that makes sense. Maybe the FBI would kill members of its own team, but I really doubt it. Gore wanted me to put that in, but I thought that was too extreme for audiences to accept.

But, I still feel that it's close to the human values that I wanted to portray. I mean, ultimately, it's a play about loneliness; about two very lonely men, who sort of connect in a strange way, in an extreme situation. It's a kind of love story between a straight man and a gay man; one is on Death Row, the other is near the end of his life. So, you can say it's reprehensible to play with the truth, but I think almost any playwright would choose the dramatic impact, more than the literal fact.

For the full interview click here.

In other news, Bill Cannacci has delivered his damning verdict on Terre Haute on the prestigious website MyCentralJersey.com (which we think refers to an area of New Jersey as opposed to an item of essential knitwear).

"Suprisingly dull," thought Bill, who might well scratch his head at the many superlatives lavished on the show by eminent critics on both sides of the Atlantic. Perhaps they don't share Bill's impressive critical faculties? "He makes us believe that he believes what he is saying," Bill notes, in a quite profound critique of the acting.

"The problem, frankly, is that White is not a playwright," concludes Bill, lobbing a hefty stone through the wall of his glass house.

Naturally, we don't like getting bad reviews, but we console ourselves that this one appears to have been written by a six-year-old.