Snow White Tweets and Seven Gullible Children

  British writer Caryl Churchill’s  ten minute playlet ”Seven Jewish Children”( 7JC) is an artistic achievement that has multiple interpretations. It is art imposed over  a political and religious context whereby the audience is drawn into the relationship between church, state, and modern power structures.

 7JC has many similarities with Jonathan Swift’s ‘‘Tale of the Tub.”. Seven Jewish Children is Churchill’s response to the Gaza invasion of 2008 that realistically has little connection with the plight of this stateless people.  Churchill is a talented writer of   personal integrity but not above rising below her cause by letting a timely humanitarian crisis go to naught.

Tale of the Tub was a satire about digression and religious excess. The ”tub” is a metaphor for an event tossed over the side of the boat by sailors ( the ship of state) to divert attention from those who question the government and its right to rule. Swift called this the ” beast” referring to Thomas Hobbes book ”Leviathan”. The ship of state sought to preserve existing historical structures and institutional arrangements and thus offered a tub ( the palestinians) as a diversion in an act of self preservation  and to mask their own religious excesses. If the play can’t be at least partially explained out of this phenomenon ,then 7JC is clearly racist.

Thomas Hobbes ''Leviathan''

Thomas Hobbes ''Leviathan''



The quality of the playlet is above issue, well assembled , and clever, even lyrical when well executed. It is minimalist in nature and Churchill has comprehensive knowledge of ”alienation” techniques made popular by Bertold Brecht. The issues of conflict resolution are relevent, but ultimately 7JC is art that divides, not unites, as the propaganda can’t be extricated from the artistic side and more progressive reflexes take a detour off the high road. The efforts at calculation are too obvious and transparent . These are stereotypical characters that are marked by a  absence of redemptive qualities.


Whether 7JC  is ultimately more articulate   and  socially relevent than  National Kick a Ginger Day  can only be surmised. It could be said that both 7JC and South Park are about of do-good western liberalism. Except, 7JC  is to be swallowed as ”art” and the latter as  gratuitous violence. 7JC is not a collection of bald- faced lies since the elements of dishonesty can be Pinteresquely ( Harold Pinter ) described as ”the more sophisticated verbal inveiglements of the upper classes”.

26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26client%3Dsafari%26rls%3Den%26sa%3DN%26start%3D20%26um%3D1">...change we need

...change we need



The adage of ”Not in my backyard” is appropriate here where liberal causes are projected onto the misery of the Palestinians. The victim becomes pathologized and a social and economic industry arises from their misfortune. However, the intervention betrays a simplicity of analysis characteristic of the Northern Liberal and serves as an allegory for hypocrtitical foreign policy. It appears that Gaza is only  remotely connected to the author’s real axe to grind.snow-white-7

In fact, writer Caryl Churchill has invited all interested parties to a Second Sitting For the Last Supper. The first time around was inconclusive and  marked by discord.The promises of milk and honey were not fulfilled. Churchill has kept the Messiah’s seat warm and the table set. The suffering Palestinians run parallel to a long running fraternal dispute  among mutually antagonistic factions among the descendents of  Abraham , Isaac and Jacob. Neither side displays any inclination to turn swords into ploughshares in the foreseeable future.

Waltz With Bashir-2008

Waltz With Bashir-2008








One development from 7JC  is the idea of  a ”micro-play”, a work of art viewable inside 10 minutes. There is a use of the ”hit and run” tactic such as the series of vignettes that made up the film Religilous. Its an internet savvy playlet that lends itself to streaming video and social media. Its a ”Twitter” play  with the dialogue being a series of  ”tweets”.Micro art for the blog generation.  7JC also raises the issue of  where are the vague  lines defining the frontier between art as dissent or art as propaganda. If the playlet had been a demonstration of transforming a politicized crisis into an expression of anti-propaganda then 7JC would have achieved widespread approval.

Is Churchill a Priestess, Snow White in her KKK white robe, burning a cross as seven elves dressed as klansmen chant the dogma, or is 7JC an ”investigation on the effect of nationalism and history on our personal and collective memories?” ( Dimitri Nasrallah, Globe and Mail) The struggle to reconcile national and religious identities is irrelevent within an individual’s search for authentic identity. Certainly an obstacle on which to base artistic axpression. Nationality and religion are probably incidental though not coincidental to 7JC. The contradictions of 7JC ecologically pollute the artistic gene pool by limiting the playlet to the shallow end; wearing a  lifejacket and oxygen tank  representing  religion and nationality. It could even be argued that  7JC diffuses what it claims to repress; the holy trinity of evil : Racism, Militarism and Consumerism 

 I smile when I’m angry.

I cheat and I lie.

I do what I have to

To get by.

But I know what is


And I know what is right.

And I’d die for the truth

In My Secret Life

( Leonard Cohen: In My Secret Life )

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