Best provocative playwrights (2008)

Thomas Bradshaw or Young Jean Lee

Coke-snorting English professors, ass-slapping Korean girls, slave-owning demagogues, the opium-addled poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge—no one could possibly accuse playwrights Thomas Bradshaw or Young Jean Lee of crafting uncontroversial characters. Race, sex, class, religion—these acerbic scribes leave few buttons unpushed. Sample lines: "The wiliness of the Korean is beyond anything" and "We need to lead a revolution against these kente-cloth niggers!" Regulars at P.S. 122, they've even worked together once, with Bradshaw performing in Lee's 2005 play Pullman, WA. Of course, their plays—Lee's especially—are far more than contrarian screeds, but as someone desperately needs to rouse downtown theater audiences from their comfortable liberalism, perhaps Lee's next play can favor global warming or Bradshaw might turn in an anti-gun-control comedy. Do they hold nothing sacred? Rather little, save a devotion to the theatrical medium and a desire to challenge complacency, encouraging audiences to think—and feel—for themselves.


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