Reading for the Day: John Logan’s “Red”

The Rothko in the excerpt is the painter Mark Rothko, and Ken is his assistant, played by Eddie Redmayne, who garnered a Tony for his performance.

It was a very interesting performance. Self thinks Redmayne pulled it off primarily with his voice, which exhibited an endearing tendency to crack at moments of high tension (which, in this play, occurs every 10 minutes or so. It is a very intense play, dear blog readers!) And Alfred Molina as Rothko was absolutely GREAT.

Penny, self is forever grateful to you for getting the tickets and for taking her to see this play last month!  Self was one of the last two people admitted to the theater before the play started:  she had to catch the subway from Soho and practically flew, flew through Times Square!  (Too bad, she was particularly hoping to catch sight of the Naked Cowboy! All she saw instead were a couple of very beefy policemen perched atop horses. And a lady in an evening gown. This was early afternoon on a Saturday)

Rothko:  So now, what do you see?  —  Be specific.  No, be exact.  Be exact —  but sensitive.  You understand?  Be kind.  Be a human being, that’s all I can say.  Be a human being for once in your life!  These pictures deserve compassion and they live or die in the eye of the sensitive viewer, they quicken only if the empathetic viewer will let them.  That is what they cry out for.  That is why they were created.  That is what they deserve …  Now …  What do you see?

Ken:   Red.

Rothko:   But do you like it?

Ken:   Mm.

Rothko:   Speak up.

Ken:   Yes.

Rothko:   Of course you like it  —  how can you not like it?  Everyone likes everything nowadays.  They like the television and the phonograph and the soda pop and the shampoo and the Cracker Jack.  Everything becomes everything else and it’s all nice and pretty and likable.  Everything is fun in the sun!  Where’s the discernment?  Where’s the arbitration that separates what I like from what I respect, what I deem worthy, what has  …  listen to me now  …  significance.

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