A Bright Room Called Day

Angels in America is probably my favorite play of all time; so it's no surprise I'd jump at the opportunity to see another play by it's author, Tony Kushner.

Even better, this show is at the Public Theater. I usually get tickets to shows at the Public via their website. I participate in their Young Partner Program which has some discounted tickets as well.

A Bright Room Called Day takes place in 1932-33 Berlin. It concerns a group of friends during the fall of the Weimar Republic. These friends are communists, and political activists.

In addition, there's a character named Zillah from the 1980s watching the play. In the original production, she was there to compare the politics to the, then current, Reagan administration. For this new production, they added another  character, the author, providing commentary from 2019.

Let's start at the surface. The play taking place in the 1930s is so compelling on it's own. As an observer in 2019 I constantly wanted to shout at them to leave Berlin. They all have faith that the Nazis are just some fringe party, until they aren't.

The commentary within the play draws parallels between the rise of the Nazis and the rise of populism in the United States. In 1985 Kushner truly believed that Reagan was the next Hitler. In hindsight this wasn't true, but those were frightening times for anyone who wasn't straight and white.

To bring this into 2019 and compare Trump to Hitler seems obvious, but that missed shot in the middle removes some confidence. Nevertheless the parallels were astounding. The play takes the time to show us the ebb and flow required for the Nazis to rise to power. It shows us that Hitler never won the popular vote and the circumstances required to dismantle democracy in Germany.

The thing that made me most nervous was the moments of optimism for our characters. Whenever Hitler had a setback, they had hope that things would be okay. Unfortunately we know that wasn't the case.

I left this play with a lot on my mind regarding the symmetry between the Nazis and the Trump administration. We can only hope the American democracy is stronger than 1930s Germany. If we're lucky, Trump won't do any more long term damage than Reagan.

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