One Minute World Arts- Straight Line Crazy: A Visionary, or a Tyrant?

The Shed, a multi-functional cultural center in New York City previously introduced in this column, is now presenting Straight Line Crazy, a theatrical production closely related to the urban planning and development of NYC, at its Griffin Theater. The play focuses on the life and work of Robert Moses, the urban planner and designer who was extremely powerful and influential between 1920s and 1960s, and thus almost single-handedly reshaped NYC into a modern city with his massive public projects. However, views on Moses differ: while some regard him as a visionary capable of seeing things through and making consistent endeavors to solidify and update the city’s infrastructure, including the construction of Lincoln Center, some see him as a tyrant who despised the minorities, forcing them to leave their homes in order to reach the goal of “slum clearance”.


Such a controversial figure became the central character of David Hare’s new play, Straight Line Crazy. Hare is one of the most outstanding contemporary British playwrights that is also well known for writing the screenplay for the movies The Hours and The Reader. His fascination with Moses led him to create this play, and Ralph Fiennes, the Tony-winning actor widely acclaimed for his roles in movies such as The English Patient, Schindler’s List, and Harry Potter, was invited to play the role Robert Moses. Straight Line Crazy received great reviews after its premiere at London’s The Bridge in March 2022, with theater critics hailing Fiennes’s brilliant performance that carries the weight of Moses’s charm and brutality as “phenomenal and glorious”. The production was then transferred to the NYC, starting its preview off-Broadway at The Shed on October 18 – and its official run beginning on October 26, inviting local audiences to see how Moses’s story is now “reshaped” by a British playwright on stage.




在本專欄曾介紹過的紐約藝文中心The Shed(「棚屋」)裡,目前正上演著一部與該中心所在地區發展歷程極其相關的戲碼:《直線偏執狂》(Straight Line Crazy),該劇主人翁正是美國史上知名的營建大師羅伯.摩斯(Robert Moses)。19201960年代期間,叱吒風雲的摩斯大權在握,幾乎隻手捏塑出當代紐約的市容。不過,後世對於摩斯的評價相當兩極:一方面佩服他在城市規劃與基礎建設上的遠見與堅持,讓諸如林肯中心(Lincoln Center)這樣的建築得以問世;但另方面也批評他是個為了一己之私藐視弱勢居民權益、甚至逼迫他們搬遷流離的暴君。


如此具有爭議性的人物,讓英國當代最重要的劇作家之一,同時也是電影《時時刻刻》和《為愛朗讀》的編劇大衛.海爾(David Hare)深感興味,動手將摩斯的生平事蹟編寫成劇本,並邀得東尼獎得主、演過《英倫情人》、《辛德勒的名單》,以及《哈利波特》等電影的知名演員雷夫.范恩斯(Ralph Fiennes),出演劇中主角羅伯.摩斯。《直線偏執狂》於今年稍早在英國首演後大獲好評,尤其雷夫.范恩斯精湛演繹摩斯那份自信中帶著蠻橫霸氣的個人魅力,更是博得一片讚聲。1018日起,本劇移師至紐約外百老匯,在The Shed內的葛里芬劇院(Griffin Theater)進行預演,並於1026日起正式上演,讓美國觀眾能有機會欣賞到英國劇作家對羅伯.摩斯所做的詮釋。


Photo Credit ©Brett Beyer and Dan Wilton, Kate Glicksberg, Sara Krulwich