“When I wrote that, it was during the run-up to the invasion in Iraq, and I was listening to all these pundits on television speaking with enormous conviction about weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Anyone who questions that was seen as weak. When did that become a sign of weakness instead of a mark of wisdom?”
But he’s optimistic about where we are as a country now.
“We even now have a doubtful president, who has on occasion actually changed his mind in public, which I find a heartening situation,” he said. “And it has been held as weakness on his part, when he’s changed his mind in public, by some. But I think we should look to our leadership, to make adjustments in the direction we’re going.”
Shanley is enthusiastic about his interactions with students.
“I think it’s important for artists in cultural centers like New York City to get out nationally and interact with people at that formative stage in their lives,” he said. “I get something out of it, and I hope and think that students get something out of it as well.
“It’s good in every possible way for people in this culture to talk to each other and exchange ideas and impressions. Young people, they’re our best hope for the future and we need to support them and give them whatever information we have to offer.”
Currently Shanley has a play on Broadway, “Outside Mullingar,” that takes place on a farm in Ireland. He calls it “a romantic comedy with some dark overtones.”
“In that play I’m just reminding myself, and perhaps the audience, about what connection to the environment, to the land is,and how it affects your world view. It can give you a kind of wisdom we’re divorced from in the urban environment — and have some fun along the way,” he said.