Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Karl Marx: The Musical?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 11:14 PM


Karl Marx was no Hitler or Stalin, but when I read that a Chinese director is creating a Karl Marx musical in Shanghai, I couldn't help but think of The Producers, with Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder, and the lovely ditty, "Springtime for Hitler." Mostly, because I was wondering how in the world you write a musical about Marx and his philosophies outlined in his book "Das Kapital"?

Director He Nian says he will combine elements from animation, Broadway musicals, and Las Vegas stage shows to bring Marx's economic theories to life as a trendy, interesting, and educational play.

From the Chinese press:

Laughing at the doubters, Yang Shaolin said that more than a decade ago, when the stage was dominated by the classical unities and the Stanislavsky system, it certainly would have been difficult to imagine Das Kapital adapted into a play with "main characters, major dramatic elements, and profound educational meaning." However, as drama has flourished in many different forms that make use of a variety of different ideas, the stage has opened up to the point that turning a profound theoretic work like Das Kapital into a play is no longer an intractable problem.

In the BBC story. the director points to the economic crisis as a great reason to do a musical on Marx--a reminder of the problems with capitalism, but in a way that doesn't make any waves with the country's own embrace of capitalism. It's this embrace I keep thinking about and what they've received in return: Many Chinese no longer have free health coverage, but they do have an astronomical amount of industrial waste and pollution from making all of our stuff, and continued censorship. What would Marx really think?


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