Whistleblower: The arts have a long history of examining government & society

Art is a vehicle of great change. It questions norms, advocates for the powerless, and documents our truth. Historically, it has been a challenge to the powers that lead society, who at times sought to suppress these stories. We can trace this back to Queen Elizabeth who said no play should be performed that dealt with "either matters of religion or of the governance of the estate of the common weal." in 1559. We would like to challenge this by embracing stories of resistance and suppression in our list of examples below; we have even included shows that have taken place at the Curran.

While these stories magnify and distort the subjects of their critique to dramatic ends, there are kernels of truth that we can recognize when we read the news today. Learn more about some of these things and more when Michael Krasny interviews Edward Snowden via live video link, here at the Curran on November 8.

We’ve compiled this list of some books that deal with government suppression and what that life can look like when that happens.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Trial by Franz Kafka
The Giver by Lois Lowry
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore
1984 by George Orwell
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth
Blindness by José Saramago
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Baz Luhrmann's La Bohème. Photo by Mike Kepka / SF Chronicle

Just a few of the theater pieces that have come to life on the Curran stage that also fit into these themes...

La Bohème, with music by Giacomo Puccini
Spring Awakening, the musical by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik based on the Wedekind play
Les Misérables, novel by Victor Hugo, play by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Alain Boublil
Cabaret, with music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb, and book by Joe Masteroff