Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Economics of Theater, Part IV: A Pause for Art

And now, a pause for Art.

I have been thinking for a while of writing a play dealing with economics.  My idea, right now, would be to write a series of sketches, each based on another economic theorist: Keynes, Smith, Marx, Rand, etc.  Of course, my struggles with my own personal economy have been partly the inspiration for that, but one thing that I’ve learned from the recent fiscal troubles is that the field of economics is truly fascinating.  I have started reading whatever I can, listening to Planet Money, Freakonomics, etc.

Or perhaps I will write some and ask some other playwrights to write some of the other sketches.  I’m not sure.  And takers?

Will this idea lead anywhere?  Perhaps.  But since I am writing these essays and theater and art, I felt I might as well try out one, for kicks.  This one’s based on Keynes’ theory that in times of economic hardship, employing someone, even to just dig a ditch and then fill it back up again, is an overall economic good. 


I’ve definitely had day jobs that have felt like I was doing just that…

THE DITCH DIGGER, by JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES

PERSON
What are you doing?

DITCH DIGGER

Digging a ditch.

PERSON
Why?

DITCH DIGGER
For the sake of the country.

PERSON
What are you going to do with that ditch when you’re done?

DITCH DIGGER

Gonna fill up the hole.

PERSON
With what?

DITCH DIGGER

Dirt.

PERSON
What dirt?

DITCH DIGGER

Same dirt I took out.

PERSON
Why?

DITCH DIGGER
For the sake of the country.

PERSON
How does that help the country?

DITCH DIGGER

I dunno.  Just does.  Wanna dig?

PERSON
Why would I?

DITCH DIGGER

Pay’s good.

PERSON
How good?

DITCH DIGGER

Good enough.

PERSON
I don’t like digging.

DITCH DIGGER

Nor me.

PERSON
Why don’t you do something else?

DITCH DIGGER

They won’t pay for that.

PERSON
How come?

DITCH DIGGER
Some man came along and told ‘em that ditch digging would save the economy.

PERSON
Just ditch digging?

DITCH DIGGER

He didn’t say.  They’re keeping to the ditch digging.  Just in case.

PERSON
What would you like to do?

DITCH DIGGER

Me?  I’m a clown.

PERSON
A what?

DITCH DIGGER

Clown.

PERSON
Like…with the big shoes, and the red nose?

DITCH DIGGER

Sort of.  Don’t use the shoes or the nose though.

PERSON
Then what makes you a clown?

DITCH DIGGER

Clowning.

PERSON
Is that worth more than ditch digging?

DITCH DIGGER

Makes people laugh.  Sometimes.  Makes people think.

PERSON
People like to laugh and think.

DITCH DIGGER

Some do.  Some like to dig ditches.  Some don’t like much of anything, at all.

PERSON
Clown for me.

DITCH DIGGER

What?

PERSON
Clown for me.

DITCH DIGGER

Can’t.  I’ve got a job.

PERSON
But you’re just going to fill up this ditch later.

DITCH DIGGER

That’s what they’re paying me for.

PERSON
What if you didn’t dig at all?  Would they even notice?

DITCH DIGGER

Not sure.

PERSON
Clown for me.

DITCH DIGGER

How much are you paying?

PERSON
I don’t have much.

DITCH DIGGER

Me neither.

PERSON
Don’t you miss clowning?

DITCH DIGGER

Yes.

PERSON
Don’t you want to clown?

DITCH DIGGER

Yes.

PERSON
Then clown for me.

DITCH DIGGER

Can’t.  Got a job.
(Pause.)
What do you do?

PERSON
I paint pictures.

DITCH DIGGER

Does anyone buy them?

PERSON
I’m afraid to show them to anyone.

DITCH DIGGER

Do you think anyone would buy them?

PERSON
Maybe.  Not many people have money, though.  And there are a lot of people who paint pictures.
(Pause.)

DITCH DIGGER

Want a shovel?

PERSON
Yes.

1 comment:

voxel said...

Funny, I've been trying to write an Economics musical for the past 4+ months now... (and just stumbled upon your blog via Twitter). I'm almost at the "zero-draft" stage now. I suspect we have completely different approaches because our economic understanding and viewpoints are probably different.

I'd love to hear if others are attemping the same thing!