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The Great Work Continues: The 25 Best American Plays Since ‘Angels in America’

Skip to content. Skip to navigation. Coming soon. A collection of plays written for teenage audiences from the leading theater for young people and families in North America. Ambitious, surprising, and complex, they engage, challenge, and respect teenage minds. Fierce and True both redefines the field of theater for young people and provides an invaluable resource for theater professionals, educators, and the teens they serve.

Fierce and True is just that: a bold new anthology of work for teen audiences created by four distinctive theatrical voices. Each has brought their own unique theatricality to explorations of a whole range of questions that MATTER to teens today. In so doing, they have offered us the opportunity to blow open our thinking about what important and meaningful theatre for this audience might look like.

If the bill collectors figured out how to use interpersonal anger to their advantage, the cable-news business perfected the monetization of moral outrage. In , a television reporter named Geraldo Rivera began hosting a daytime talk show. It failed to attract much attention in its first year.

Then he tried a new formula, inviting white supremacists, skinheads, and black and Jewish activists into his studio, all at the same time. A brawl broke out. The episode was a hit. Broadcast news had been constrained by regulations that enforced fairness and encouraged decorum. Cable executives, however, could do whatever they wanted. One former Fox producer I spoke with said that his network realized early on that if watching anger was entertaining, then getting a chance to participate in it—hearing your indignations given voice by a bombastic host—was irresistible.

Executives from other cable-news channels publicly disdained his approach—and rushed to imitate it. The method at both networks was, and is, to tap into our reservoirs of moral indignation.


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The point is to keep viewers tuned in, which means keeping them angry all the time. No reconciliation, no catharsis, no compromise. The more recent rise of social media has only further inflamed our emotions. On social media, the old rewards of anger—recognition of our unhappiness, resolution of our complaints—are replaced with new ones: retweets, likes, more followers, more influence.

The targets of our rage, meanwhile, tend to be strangers less inclined to hear us out than to fire back. The democratic nature of social media has given previously marginalized groups new outlets to express their outrage and to translate anger into action. Lawyers relied on Twitter and Facebook for help mobilizing in support of immigrants to the U.

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But the political actors who use anger to more cynical ends still have the upper hand. Political consultants have long been among the most devoted proselytizers of rage. In , the presidential candidate George H. Anger is now de rigueur on the campaign trail, weaponized by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Charles Duhigg: Why Is America So Angry? - The Atlantic

His would-be successor, Hillary Clinton, found herself similarly constrained by misogynistic stereotypes. All of this anger-mongering in campaigns, whether subtle or overt, has had a corrosive effect on American democracy. A poll by The Washington Post found that 35 percent of voters in battleground districts of the midterm election chose the word angry to describe their feelings about the campaign; 24 percent chose patriotic.

Without anyone to channel that anger, it can turn into a destructive obsession. In the fall of , Larry Cagle, an English teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, became so furious that he started plotting to throw his school into chaos. In Florida, where he taught previously, it was almost twice that amount. Cagle had been so angry at the school system for so long that his wife had instituted a rule: No ranting at the dinner table. Eventually, he decided he needed to do something. He emailed a few colleagues and asked, What if everyone called in sick on the same day? The idea of causing such a disruption would have once seemed abhorrent to Cagle.

He had complained to people in power, had volunteered on school-board campaigns, had filed grievances with his union, had tried to explain to parents why they ought to demand more for their kids. None of it had worked. Cagle began recruiting teachers at other schools. Just make it happen. After the story aired, Cagle began receiving emails and messages on social media—first dozens, then hundreds—from educators all around the state.

At the time, newspapers were filled with stories of teachers walking out of classrooms in West Virginia, demanding higher pay and more resources. Kentucky and Colorado were also headed toward teacher strikes. But the bill included only limited funds to improve the schools. The teachers were far from mollified. They decided to hold a massive, statewide walkout.

After coordinating via email, text message, Facebook, and Twitter, thousands of teachers across the state left their classrooms on Monday, April 2, Principals were forced to close hundreds of schools. Parents had to hire babysitters or stay at home.

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They were just fed up and wanted everyone to know it. On the first morning of the protest, a few thousand teachers descended on the state capitol in Oklahoma City. Television cameras showed up, and people began posting photos online. The strike stretched through the rest of the week, and then into the next. As many as 80, people attended the demonstrations. R esearchers call the phenomenon in which anger, rather than making things better, becomes a cycle of recrimination, rumination, and ever-expanding fury the revenge impulse.

Though anger and the desire for revenge can feel intertwined, they are two distinct emotions. One study, for instance, found that when laid-off workers believed firings were handled fairly—that a process was adhered to, that seniority was respected, that worker evaluations were properly considered—they were less likely to protest or complain, even if they disagreed with the outcome. Alternately, if workers believed that managers were playing favorites or manipulating the rule book, sabotage was more likely.

Because as long as they believe it was a fair fight, they tolerate losing. It makes a certain evolutionary sense that the desire for revenge would be coded into us as an emotion of last resort. Good anger, as James Averill demonstrated, encourages us to air our grievances and find solutions. A leader like Cesar Chavez can reframe anger as moral indignation, which can extend the power of personal grievances into an instrument for the pursuit of a more just world.

But when we come to believe that justice is impossible, we get the desire for revenge. Rather, some people become willing to do anything to advance their interests, regardless of who is standing in the way. It also makes sense that this emotion ought to be rare, because the desire for revenge can be exceedingly destructive. In many cases, the targets feel violated themselves. They are now injured, and may start seeking revenge of their own. People begin taking justice into their own hands, because they think institutions cannot provide it.