I got opportunity to go check out Rinde Eckert's "Horizon" last night at the New York Theater Workshop, which I can recommend without reservation. I don't usually feel comfortable using this blog as a forum for reviews, so I'll eschew that format. The performers, songs, direction will all get professional reviews all over the place. In fact, I'm relatively certain Ben Brantley just said some very nice things over at the New York Times.
To start with, the whole evening was worth the allegorical story of the paper flower. You'll see.
What I found most compelling about the evening was that it portrays a Christian scholar as a formidable intellectual. In the current cultural climate, the political right has inspired a sort of rubbernecking instinct when it comes to public Christian 'representatives.' It goes without saying that the tradition of religious scholarship has taken a bit of a beating in both the press and in the political realm. Hackneyed phrases such as "I look to my faith" are so pat from politicians (on both sides of the aisle) that they've taken on the tone of placation. The idea, for example, that the parables and allegories in the Bible still have some heft, some ethical power, is a rather stunning one to see on the New York stage.
"Horizon," in this climate, would seem to be political. It isn't. It is concerned only, it appears, with humankind and its resistance to, or misunderstanding of, its own search for underlying meanings. Christianity here is beside the point, in a manner of speaking. More to the point is the desire for a religious human being to embrace reason, and to seek to inspire reason in others. It speaks to a large tradition and contigent of religious people who use their faith to find understanding, as opposed to using faith to dispel their responsiblity as seekers and thinkers.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.