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  Opinion   Oped  04 Feb 2019  The stage is all set for Weinstein

The stage is all set for Weinstein

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Feb 4, 2019, 12:24 am IST
Updated : Feb 4, 2019, 12:24 am IST

As mercury plunges to minus 16 degrees in some parts of the UK, the political scenario over Brexit is also entering the Ice Age.

Harvey Weinstein
 Harvey Weinstein

And now for the play, and then perhaps the movie! It was only a matter of time before the story of Harvey Weinstein (the man who will infamously go down in history for instigating the #MeToo movement) was to hit the floor boards. One wonders how difficult it will be to watch it on stage? At least two versions inspired by his life will be out very soon. One of them, Bitter Harvest, by David Mamet, starring the very talented John Malkovich, is opening this summer, and is already creating a buzz. It is supposed to be a “black farce” — and all about a very badly behaved movie mogul, according to Malkovich. But the second play makes no bones about the character it is based on — the title role of “Harvey” (in the play by the same name) is enacted by the writer/actor/director Stephen Berkoff. This too should be opening soon.

While Mamet said in an interview that he is exploring how “every society has to confront the ungovernable genie of sexuality and tries various ways to deal with it,” it will be interesting to see whether dark humour actually manages to reveal the complexities behind the exploitation that Weinstein apparently indulged in. For Berkoff, intriguingly, there may be many more aspects to the play. He says that he had personally found many of those, from the theatrical world recently accused of sexual impropriety to be “indifferent, arrogant, disinterested, pompous and sometimes downright rude.” This would then obviously give a searing edge to his production.

Undoubtedly, Weinstein will continue to provide plenty of masala for books, films and theatre — and one hopes that his victims will also be given their due space within the narrative as well as the #MeToo movement that has given so many sexually harassed women a voice. I also suspect that the Harvey Weinstein character will only truly emerge when the play is written by a woman. But let’s watch and wait for the curtains to go up on these two productions. (One fears that “Harvey the Musical” may not be far behind, though!)
As mercury plunges to minus 16 degrees in some parts of the UK, the political scenario over Brexit is also entering the Ice Age. Brittle and sharp debates have left both sides, the government and the Opposition, bitterly divided. But now it seems the Prime Minister, Theresa May, might have actually stolen a march on the Corbynistas. The latest polls show that the Conservatives have got a 7 per cent lead over Labour, and this is all over Brexit, what else? Strange, isn’t it? As they say, a week is a long time in politics! And while people are grappling with the spectre of a no-deal Brexit, Ms May is still putting across her “deal” in the hope it will be accepted. Once again she seems to be outwitting those who had written her off. There has been a slight improvement in the number of those supporting her deal, but Jeremy Corbyn is steadily losing support both among the “Leavers” and the “Remainers.” As the deadline to Brexit approaches in March, the situation remains as confusing as ever: In this latest poll, 43 per cent think the UK should ask for a postponement to the deadline, while 42 per cent think the UK should leave without a deal. Go figure!

One worrying sign of the times, and something we should take as seriously as Brexit, is that the alternative virtual lives our young children have begun to lead on social media. Following some recent cases of children committing suicide after being encouraged to self-harm on social media, this is something that only parents and family members around young children can keep a look out for. While governments can put in regulations, it is really our decision how much time a child spends on the Internet and our decision on how to monitor the influences upon them. The recently reported chilling case of teenager Ursula Keogh was brought to light by her mother, author Nicky Harlow, who said that her daughter had begun to self-harm — and eventually killed herself as she was accessing “suicide sites”. Whether social media sites like Instagram and Facebook can actually monitor the exact ages of their users (in a world where false identities are so easy to create) is doubtful, but perhaps better regulations could be placed when young people open online accounts. And parents can be more vigilant when their children appear troubled by their virtual “friends”.

Psychological support is also required for these young children as we have already seen that they can be easily groomed for sexual activity, or even turned into terrorists if the wrong kind of people become their friends. While issues of privacy are involved, the ease of access makes strong parenting imperative. But how much? In retrospect, Nicky Harlow wishes she had actually smashed her daughter’s phone. Could that have prevented this terrible tragedy?

Tags: harvey weinstein, theresa may