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"With Enough Propaganda, You Can Confuse Anybody"

January 6, 2017

 

I picked up a used copy of Arthur Miller's Incident at Vichy a few months ago at the public library sale.

I had a friend in a production a few years back and I've never actually read the play.

 

Written in 1964, Miller had the privilege of writing about WWII with a bit of distance as he struggles to figure out how good honest people were caught so unaware about the atrocities of the German regime. 

 

Summary of the play: 

A group of men held to wait unknowingly, for what turns out to be their "racial" inspection by German military officers and Vichy French police during World War II. It focuses on the subjects of human nature, guilt, fear, and complicity and examines how the Nazis were able to perpetrate the Holocaust with so little resistance.

 

 

In the current political climate, this play felt hot, prescient and personal. As Americans get ready to transition out of the Obama administration, our global identity is unknown and frightening. I have been wondering how the conversation between the men about the impending evil they would soon be confronted with, played to audiences in 1964. More importantly, I wondered how this play would be received today and if the parallels would be obvious.

 

Could producing the play "as is" today be enough to resonate with Americans currently about their own social and political divisive issues? Should the play be modernized? If we replaced "Jew" with say "Muslim" does it become controversial?

 

I was particularly struck by this bit of dialogue... 

 

VON BERG:  Many times I used to ask my friends - if you love your country, why is is necessary to hate other countries? To be a good German why must you despise everything that is not German? Until I realized the answer. They do not do these things because they are German but because they are nothing.

 

Thank you for the art you created Arthur Miller. 

 

 

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